Approximately 70 hog deer – an endangered species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – are living in Cambodia’s Mekong terrestrial landscape in Kratie province, according to the Ministry of Environment.

The ministry said this exciting information was determined last week through photographic evidence from camera traps and thermal drone surveys.

The survey was conducted in a wildlife sanctuary by wildlife researchers from Kratie provincial environment department and Word Wild Fund for Nature Cambodia (WWF-Cambodia), with assistance from the Biodiversity Inventory for Conservation (BINCO) NPO team and Thermal DRONES GmbH, as well as from the local community and authorities.

The survey also showed the presence of multiple fawns, indicating that reproduction is taking place in the area. The ministry and WWF-Cambodia are preparing a hog deer population status report, which is due to be released soon.

“The hog deer is listed as globally endangered on the IUCN Red List and was once thought to be extinct in Cambodia, until its rediscovery in 2006 in Kratie,” the ministry said.

It also noted that the species is still threatened by habitat loss, poaching and the snaring crisis fuelled by the illegal wildlife trade.

To save the hog deer and many other globally significant wildlife species in the Kingdom from poaching and snaring, the Zero-Snaring in Cambodia’s Protected Areas campaign was launched in early March with the goal to eliminate all types of snaring and end the illegal wildlife trade at the targeted locations.

Ken Sereyrotha, country programme director for Wildlife Conservation Society Cambodia (WCS-Cambodia) praised the discovery of the endangered species in Cambodia, highlighting the presence of the herd as a positive sign for biodiversity conservation in the Kingdom.

Sereyrotha said WCS-Cambodia was actively working on wildlife conservation in Cambodia as well and their team recently found giant trout nests in the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary, which spans nearly 300,000ha in the east of Cambodia.

Sereyrotha also expressed his concerns about hunting and deforestation causing the loss of habitat for wildlife, and he urged all stakeholders and relevant authorities to enforce the law comprehensively and effectively.

“The challenge is that we still see poaching, trapping of wild animals, logging for agriculture and logging for timber sales in protected areas and these activities will destroy wildlife sanctuaries. The most serious risk when losing forests is that it will lead to the loss of rare species that need that forest for shelter,” he said.

The environment ministry has attempted to reintroduce into the wild many rare and endangered species, including the Asiatic golden cat, giant muntjac, wild dogs, clouded leopards, various deer species as well as many rare species of birds.