The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) revealed on Tuesday the discovery of over 20,000 endangered black-shanked douc langurs and about 1,200 endangered yellow-cheeked crested gibbons in Cambodia, mostly in Mondulkiri province’s Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary.

The findings were the culmination of a 10-year investigation which started in 2010.

WCS country director Ken Serey Rotha told The Post on Tuesday that the investigation was carried out in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment.

“There are about 20,000 black-shanked douc langurs and 1,200 yellow-cheeked crested gibbons that observers found on high trees in dense and semi-dense old-growth forests in Cambodia, especially in the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary, which is an important shelter for them,” he said.

The monkeys can often be found jumping from tree to tree in the early morning and they are typically very vocal between 5am and 7am. Their voices can sometimes be heard from between 1km and 2km away. Their diet includes fruits, leaves, flowers and insects, he said.

Ministry of Environment secretary of state and spokesman Neth Pheaktra said a press conference will be held in the near future to present research about rare wild animals and biodiversity in the Kingdom.

Pheaktra led a group of ministry delegates, reporters and Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary managers on a trip to Mondulkiri to teach about the country’s REDD+ (reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) project from October 3-5.

During the trip, he said the sanctuary not only has old-growth forests with carbon credits to sell, but it’s also an important protected area for biodiversity conservation.

“At the international level, the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary is important for the conservation of Asian elephants, yellow-cheeked crested gibbons, black-shanked douc langurs, carnivores, many types of birds and 75 types of plants that are on the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN),” he said.

The black-shanked douc langur and yellow-cheeked crested gibbon shelters in the Andong Kraleng community of O’Raing district’s Sen Monorom commune have attracted tourists, especially foreigners.

Last year, 450 tourists visited the community through an eco-tourism plan named Jahoo Gibbon Camps and spent about $17,000 during their stay.

Pheaktra encouraged related authorities, including forest rangers, partnership organisations, and citizens to join hands to protect and conserve rare animals.

He also urged parties to prevent offences related to deforestation and illegal forest encroachment. These activities destroy wild animal shelters and the region’s biodiversity, he said.

“Safeguarding our forests not only protects the ecosystem but allows us to sell carbon credits. We can take the money to enhance the conservation and development of local communities.

“It can also protect all types of animals and provide income by embracing nature tourism,” Pheaktra said.