New populations of hog deer, Indochina’s most endangered breed of deer, have recently been discovered in Kratie and southwest Cambodia, Fauna & Flora International (FFI) said yesterday.
Discovered by a joint team from the Royal University of Phnom Penh and FFI, wild hog deer were found in five out of 10 potential areas of habitat.
Sarah Brook, species manager for FFI’s Cambodia program, explained that two subspecies of hog deer are known to exist, but while Indochinese hog deer were once prevalent in Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and Yunnan, in southern China, they have since died out in those areas.
“Cambodia is the only country in Indochina with any hog deer remaining. so this is a positive thing, it’s amazing that they are still surviving here (only just) – but it’s not too late to save them,” Brook wrote in an email yesterday.
Hog deer were last discovered in 2006 near Kratie province after villagers, camera trapping and preliminary surveys assessed that about 50 to 80 deer were in the area.
Prior to the 2006 discovery, only two locations had been identified as sustaining low numbers of hog deer populations, in the 1980s.
Dr Nick Souter, of the Royal University of Phnom Penh’s Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, working in tandem with FFI, said that while the latest batch of deer had been found outside of nationally protected land, working to increase their numbers was not impossible.
“We would prefer to find them surviving in protected areas only because [otherwise] it makes conservation efforts more difficult,” Souter said, adding that hunting and habitat degradation were the primary agents responsible for decimating the country’s population.
The WWF Cambodia Programme Office describes hog deer as relatively small with varying dark brown to yellow brown fur and white-tipped tails. The animals prefer tall, wet grasslands usually near medium or large rivers and typically avoid densely forested areas, Brook said.
“Hunting is the most significant threat for the remaining populations of hog deer in Cambodia – they are hunted for local consumption and possibly for the wild meat trade,” she said.