Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra displayed a photograph of a rare Sumatran serow (Capricornis sumatraensis sumatraensis), also known as the southern serow, that was captured by a camera trap in one of the Kingdom’s protected areas.

Pheaktra said that the southern serow is listed on the IUCN Red List as a globally endangered species and in the CITES appendix I. No precise data on the Cambodian population is available, but the species’ rarity suggests it has among the least dense population of the Kingdom’s animals.

He declined to specify where the image was captured in order to protect the wild population.

Pheaktra described the serow as a black and grey quadruped, which stands almost a metre tall at the shoulder and can weigh up to 140kg. The goat-like animal has short horns and feeds in the early morning or early evening.

“They have hooves which allow them to climb steep rock faces and typically shelter in caves or thick forest during the day,” he said.

“Because the animal is agile, has a good sense of smell, keen eyes and lives in isolated shelters, they are rarely encountered. Breeding season is in October and December. It gives birth to a baby, sometimes twins. The gestation period is about seven months and the young live with their mother for almost a year before leaving,” he added.

Pheaktra explained that they are currently facing extinction due to poaching, snaring and loss of habitat.

“One of the reasons they are so endangered is because they are hunted for meat. Their horns and bones are also trafficked and used for religious purposes,” he added.

He said that people can play their part in bringing an end to snaring and the trade in bush meat by saying no to meat and wildlife products means.

“Bush meat is not good for people. It cannot cure diseases or give more energy, as some believe, but can be harmful to the health of consumers, as there may be unknown viruses present in its flesh,” he added.

“The belief that wild bones or blood can cure diseases is a misconception that can have serious health consequences. Please join us in protecting the Kingdom’s precious wildlife,” he said.

Speaking at the launch of the Zero Snaring Campaign in Koh Kong province on May 16, Christel Griffioen, country director of the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB), said eating bush meat could have serious public health consequences, and noted that as long as there are people eating it, snaring will continue to be an issue.

“We must work together to change people’s behaviour and encourage them to join us in ending snaring and the consumption or trafficking of Cambodia’s rich natural heritage,” she said.