Many rare species of wild animals such as clouded leopards and bears continue to be found in the Cardamom Mountain range. This is the result of Cambodia’s improved conservation of natural resources, according to a report released by the Ministry of Environment on February 18.
The report said that upon inspecting protected areas where more than 50 motion-activated camera traps are installed in Kampong Speu, Koh Kong and Pursat provinces from February 10-17, officials came across the tracks and droppings of many kinds of wild animals.
It said the wildlife discovered includes Asian elephants, gaurs, sambars, muntjacs, wild pigs, clouded leopards, peccaries, pangolins, dholes and other important species.
Cambodia is recognised by the world as a country rich in biodiversity and is home to at least 2,300 plant species, 123 mammal species, 545 bird species, 88 reptile species, 874 fish species and 63 amphibian species, the ministry said.
Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said earlier that the continued discovery of many species of wildlife through the installation of camera traps was a source of pride for Cambodia.
“Thanks to comprehensive peace in Cambodia, we have the opportunity to organise plans of action to protect and conserve our natural resources. Our forests and wildlife have never been better protected,” he said.
According to the ministry, the installation of camera traps to capture wildlife was supported by the Cambodia Sustainable Landscape and Ecotourism Project, in collaboration with the Department of Nature Conservation of the South Tonle Sap under the ministry’s General Department for Nature Conservation. The provincial environment departments in Pursat, Kampong Speu and Koh Kong were also involved with the project.
The cameras were installed to study and collect biodiversity data, as well as to carry out important studies on the habitats of endangered and vulnerable wildlife.
From October 2021 to January this year, the ministry had detected the presence of 10 rare, endangered and vulnerable species of wildlife in the natural protected areas.
It said specialists had installed 53 new camera traps in natural protected areas – 20 in Pursat, 23 in Koh Kong and 10 in Kampong Speu. The 53 cameras are scheduled to be collected in May.
Simultaneously, rangers in the Samlot multiple-use area – in collaboration with patrols from the MJP Foundation and ministry officials – removed another set of camera traps from four protected areas. According to the ministry’s Facebook page, on February 20 officials removed 20 cameras.
Battambang provincial environment department director Kort Boran told The Post on February 20 that the cameras were removed as they had been in place for three months.
“We have been investigating what wildlife is present in the area for a long time. Removal operations took five days. We will need another 10 days to inspect the footage, before the cameras are re-installed in different parts of the reserve,” he said.
Boran confirmed that the team had already discovered that many rare animals had been captured by the cameras.
“Through these cameras, we have seen a lot of wildlife. So far, we have seen bears, guars and leopards. We are still analysing the footage and expect to find more,” he said.
Kung Monichan, country director of the MJP foundation, told The Post that his team had installed 50 cameras in the multi-use area last November – 20 in Battambang province and 30 in neighbouring Pailin.
Monichan said that his teams were retrieving the cameras from Pailin, but that the operation would take another seven weeks. The footage would be used by experts to assess the recovery of rare species.
“We are focused on conservation. Seeing these rare animals gives us pride and motivates us to continue our work. Even though the Samlot area is small, we see a wide range of wildlife,” he added.
According to Monichan, a report detailing the results gleaned from the footage will be released in March once.
The Samlot multiple-use area covers 60,000ha in Battambang and Pailin provinces. Established as a protected area in 1993, it is the last remaining tropical rainforest in the northwestern part of the Kingdom.