T HE most ambitious effort in more than four decades to document the existence of
Cambodia's national animal, the Kouprey, has determined, with a high degree of
certainty, that the world's rarest bovine does in fact exist in small numbers in
remote corners of Mondolkiri province.
More importantly, the Thayer
Expedition has documented categorically the existence of other species in
signifacent numbers including the gaur, banteng, barking deer, wild pig, Asian
wild dog, red headed vulture, whooly-necked stork, red junglefowl and peacock,
all of which are rapidly approaching "endangered species" status throughout
While the Kouprey was not actually sighted by the Thayer
expdition, evidence collected from animal tracks and recent sightings indicates
that the Kouprey is alive and extremely endangered with perhaps as few as six to
10 animals surviving precariously in virtually unhabited jungle areas in one of
the Kingdom's most isolated districts.
Based on this new information, the
Royal Government has a unique opportunity to act quickly and definitively to
safeguard an important national symbol, a step that would not only guarantee the
survival of the Kouprey but which in the long run would be of immense benefit to
His Majesty The King, the Royal Government, the recalcitrant
Khmer Rouge and all friends of Cambodia must act now to save the Kouprey. To
wait even one minute longer would be sheer folly.
To the point, the
government needs to declare the northeast corner of Mondolkiri Province as a
national reserve or wildlife park and take whatever measures necessary to
protect the animals which still exist there .
The animals in Mondolkiri
are rapidly vanishing from their shrinking enclaves. However, Cambodia, unlike
many other nations in this part of Asia, still retains significant populations
of rare species which stand head and shoulders above what exists eleswhere
The most saleable argument, among many, for safeguarding this
wildlife is the long-term potential for engendering revenues as a result of the
worldwide intersest in wildlife tourism, of which the Kingdom is still
well-placed to take advantage. In a nutshell, people all over the world are
willing to spend thousands of dollars to see rare wild animals in their native
The opportunity for a bold expression of visionary leadership
waiting to be grasped. The Khmer people will only reap the benefits of
such action for centuries to come.
What better reason is there to grab
(gently) the cow by the horns? And, more to the point, which Khmer will go down
in history as the individual who had the forsight to protect for eternity one of
the Kingdom's most treasured national symbols?