Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Alarm at loss of rare ungulates

Alarm at loss of rare ungulates

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Environment ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra shows a photo of the endangered banteng in a press conference. Yousos Apdoulrashim

Alarm at loss of rare ungulates

Senior environment officials and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Cambodia) have expressed concerns about a dramatic decline in populations of ungulates – large hoofed mammals – in the Srepok and Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuaries located in Mondulkiri province.

In a visit to the sanctuaries on January 17, Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra led WWF-Cambodia representatives and a group of more than 30 local and international journalists.

He noted that local wildlife have suffered steep declines in numbers over the past 10 years and highlighted an urgent need for innovative solutions to reverse the trend.

During a decade-long ungulate monitoring programme in both sanctuaries, Banteng, Muntjac deer, and wild boar populations were observed to have decreased by 72 per cent, 52 per cent and 18 per cent, respectively, Pheaktra explained.

Surveys also documented very low encounter rates with Eld’s and sambar deer and gaur bison, suggesting that only small and fragmented populations of these species still live in the region.

“The decline rates highlighted in the report are a wake-up call for all of us but also present us with a unique opportunity to reverse the trends. The declines would have been worse without the tireless efforts of law enforcement to protect these areas,” he said.

Pheaktra added that traditional hunting has been superseded by an unprecedented crisis of poaching and snaring fuelled by an illegal wildlife trade which he said is the primary cause of the severe depletion of ungulates in the parks.

WWF-Cambodia’s Biodiversity Research & Monitoring Manager Milou Groenenberg described snares as a principal threat to ungulate species – and also a major contributor towards the rapid decline of natural predators like Indochinese leopards who prey on them.

A joint press release from WWF-Cambodia, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and other partners said: “Although the ‘Population Status of Ungulates’ report shows the situation is critical, there is still hope to save these wild animal species from extinction.

“But without immediate and innovative actions to counteract the key threats and their drivers, the biodiversity will continue to decline rapidly and ultimately disappear.

“The Ministry of Environment and WWF are currently studying the possibilities for the implementation of a comprehensive ungulate recovery programme, urgently required to reverse the declining population trends, while tackling the root cause of wildlife trade,” the report said.

WWF-Cambodia country director Seng Teak said it is not too late to make a difference, but immediate collective conservation actions must be taken at all levels.

“The scientific findings in the report highlight the urgent need for comprehensive and innovative solutions in order to reverse the wildlife decline, while calling for better ways of managing, using and sharing natural resources,” he said.

The environment ministry and WWF-Cambodia will continue to work closely with local communities and partner organisations to develop intensive conservation measures to reduce poaching and increase the effectiveness of law enforcement.

According to the report, the current populations of banteng are estimated at 371 in the core area of the Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary and 485 in the Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary. Red muntjac populations are estimated to be 1,425 and 4,453, respectively, in the two sanctuaries.

MOST VIEWED

  • With herd immunity likely in 2022, is Cambodia ready to reopen for tourism?

    The government aims to inoculate 80 per cent of the target population by June next year, giving it a head start among regional peers to reboot the sector but first, it has to do a few things to up its game A sign on a glass

  • US wants 'full access' to Ream Naval Base

    On June 11, the US embassy's Defense Attaché Colonel Marcus M Ferrara visited Ream Nava Base in coordination with Cambodian officials following the recent approval of Prime minister Hun Sen to allay the concerns on Chinese military presence at the base as raised by US Deputy

  • US embassy guard gets Covid despite two doses of Pfizer jab

    The Covid-19 tracking commission on June 4 said a security guard at the US embassy in Phnom Penh had contracted the novel coronavirus, despite having received a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot two weeks ago. Embassy spokesperson Chad Roedemeier confirmed the SARS-CoV-2 infection to The

  • Jab drive heading to 5 provinces

    The government is set to vaccinate more than 1.2 million people in five provinces after finishing with Phnom Penh and neighbouring Kandal in an ongoing campaign administered by the ministries of Health and National Defence. The five provinces are Preah Sihanouk, Kampong Speu, Takeo, Kampong Cham

  • Kingdom set to be a gold producer

    Cambodia will soon join the roster of gold producing countries after the government announced the commencement of commercial gold mining operations in the Okvau area in southwestern Mondulkiri province's Keo Seima district from June 21. Prime Minister Hun Sen on June 10 announced that after 14 years of

  • School reopening can’t wait

    With the Covid-19 pandemic now well into its second year, safely reopening schools has become an urgent priority. School attendance is critical for children’s education and lifetime prospects. The long-term costs of closures – both for individual children and society – are simply too large to