The rare Asiatic golden cat has been detected in natural protected areas in the Kingdom’s northeastern province of Ratanakkiri.
Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said on June 28 that according to images collected by specialists, the cats were captured on automatic cameras in Ratanakkiri’s Virachey National Park.
Pheaktra said Virachey is an ASEAN national heritage park and is rich in biodiversity. The research team for the ministry’s Department of Conservation of the East Mekong River Area had placed cameras there from March to May and caught many images of rare animal species.
“The research study was to gather important data about the presence of wild animals and classify management areas in natural protected areas,” he said, adding that Asiatic golden cats were rarely spotted because they are the rarest of the eight big cat families.
The cat families include Bengal tigers, panthers, clouded leopards, fishing cats, Asiatic golden cats, marbled cats, jungle cats and leopard cats.
“Asiatic golden cats have also been indentified in Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary, Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary and the Cardamom Mountain area. These recent cats were found in the Virachey National Park and showed the cats continued to exist in Cambodia,” Pheaktra said.
Pin Chanratana, head of the research team, said the cats weighed 9-16kg, and had a diet of small mammals, birds, reptiles, deer and monkeys.
“Most of the Asiatic golden cats live in the jungle, and in some natural protected areas in northeast, north and southwest of Cambodia,” he said, adding that the eight species were once present across Cambodia.
Chanratana continued that Asiatic golden cats are the smallest ones from the eight species. They were classified as near-vulnerable in the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Recently, the ministry showed rare and endangered species present in Cambodia including Asiatic golden cats, large-antlered muntjac (Muntiacus vuquangensis), dholes and clouded leopards.
Pheaktra said researchers discovered Cambodia is rich in biodiversity showing the presence of 123 species of mammals, 545 species of birds, 88 species of reptiles, 2,308 species of vascular plants, 874 species of fish, 24 species of hard corals, 14 species of soft corals, 10 species of seagrass and 63 species of Amphibians.