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‘Fishing cat’ spotted for first time since ’03

A photo of a fishing cat collected by a camera trap in Peam Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary in Koh Kong province.
A photo of a fishing cat collected by a camera trap in Peam Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary in Koh Kong province. FAUNA & FLORA INTERNATIONAL

‘Fishing cat’ spotted for first time since ’03

An endangered species of feline unseen in Cambodia for more than a decade has been caught on camera in the country’s southwest, a conservation group said yesterday.

Recent images of the endangered fishing cat were captured in Koh Kong province’s Peam Krosaop Wildlife Sanctuary and Preah Sihanouk’s Ream National Park by camera traps set up by the Centre for Biodiversity Conservation (CBC).

The feline was last officially recorded in the country in 2003.

In a statement yesterday, CBC – a partnership between Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and the Royal University of Phnom Penh – said it was “thrilled by the findings, which have allayed grave fears about the status of these animals in Cambodia”.

FFI project leader Ret Thaung said the group was “especially pleased to see both a male and female cat from Peam Krosaop Wildlife Sanctuary”, but remained concerned that no cats were spotted in the freshwater wetlands of Koh Kong’s Botum Sakor National Park.

“Urgent steps are needed to protect these cats from snaring and trapping and to conserve their wetland habitats”, she said.

Thaung said CBC will now develop a “fishing cat conservation action plan”, which will focus mainly on community education and measures to reduce threats to the feline, as well as training for local rangers in identifying and conserving the endangered species.