Since 2015, the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB) has successfully bred 12 endangered species of wildlife, including six species of turtle and six species of bird.
Christel Griffioen, ACCB director told The Post that the centre has also helped to save the lives of 900 additional individual animals of 30 species.
“We have bred a lot of animals, and I would like to mention our main success stories such as the white shoulder Ibis (Pseudibis davisoni), which we succeeded in breeding this year, and the Bengal floricans (Houbaropsis bengalensis) and royal turtle (Batagur affinis),” she said.
She explained how her team collected the eggs from natural areas and then hatched them in a controlled environment. In this way, they can ensure a genetically sound captive breeding programme.
“The release of these rare specimens is a long-term project that may take up to 20 years. Only when we have a large enough number to ensure that the population will survive can we release them into their natural habitats,” she added.
She warned that even if the breeding and release programme is successful, all wildlife remains at risk to the current snaring crisis.
“ACCB team members have witnessed with their own eyes the way that traps and snares are indiscriminately destroying wildlife in Cambodia. They are still responsible for killing many species of mammals, birds and reptiles in the Kingdom’s forests,” she said.
Griffioen said Southeast Asia is one of the most biodiverse regions on earth, and scientists continue to discover new species through scientific research.
“Two new species of reptiles were recently found in the Jayavarman Norodom-Phnom Kulen National Park recently, which clearly indicates that Siem Reap is not only the most important archaeological site in Southeast Asia, but also very important for biodiversity,” she added.
Neth Pheaktra, spokesman for the Ministry of Environment, noted that the ACCB plays an important role in protecting and conserving wildlife, especially rare species.
“In addition to providing medical care to animals that have been injured by trapping or other causes, they also run successful breeding programmes for many endangered species,” he said.
“We believe that the centre’s work – in breeding rare species in non-natural habitats and then releasing them back into the natural habitat – makes a significant contribution to the protection of the Kingdom’s biodiversity,” he added.
He noted the success of the reintroduction of Bengal floricans and royal turtles, as well as the critically endangered Siamese crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis) and Cantor’s giant softshell turtle (Pelochelys cantorii).
“The environment ministry encourages more breeding programmes of these, and other rare species, in order to restore the wild populations of these natural treasures,” he said.