New survey shows population to be world's second-largest
Recent surveys by the global conservation group WWF in the Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary in Mondulkiri have revealed the second-largest population of yellow-cheeked crested gibbons in the world, according to Thomas Gray, a biodiversity monitoring adviser for WWF.
The surveys estimate more than 1,000 endangered gibbons in 275 groups reside in the wildlife sanctuary, according to a WWF press release.
For three months, the WWF has led an Eastern Plains Landscape Project to determine the extent of the gibbon population, but were caught off guard by the large numbers.
"It was a little surprising. The habitat is not as good in Phnom Prich as it is further south in the Seima Biodiversity Conservation Area," Gray said.
The project findings emphasise that the dry evergreen forests of Mondulkiri are relatively intact and home to a diverse mammal community that includes bantengs, jungle cats, tigers and one of the largest populations of wild elephants in Cambodia, Gray said.
The yellow-cheeked crested gibbon is classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as endangered - one of 16 endangered mammals in the Kingdom.
"The yellow-cheeked crested gibbons are beautiful animals," Gray said. "They call every morning. It is a very characteristic sound in the forest."
Asnarith Tep, a senior communications officer at WWF, said the gibbons are "an integral part of the Eastern Plains Landscape biodiversity.
"The forests of Mondulkiri represent the last stronghold for the species. If gibbons are lost from the landscape, a key part of the characteristic fauna is gone," Asnarith Tep said.