The Stung Treng provincial Department of Environment is looking to study the flying lizard, known by its scientific name as Draco maculates, in the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary after one of the reptiles was found dead there.

Department director Eng Phirong told The Post on March 4 he had sent a report to the Ministry of Environment seeking permission to research the lizard.

“Our rangers found this flying lizard dead, and they have never seen this species before,” he said.

He concluded that in the sanctuary there might be a lot of unknown species, so the rangers plan to cooperate with the ministry’s General Department of Nature Protection and Conservation to further research them and learn how many species there are.

However, he said he did not know when the research would begin as the department has only recently submitted a request and report to the ministry.

Sok Phlauk, a member of the Prey Lang Community Network in Kampong Thom province, said there may be many winged lizards in the sanctuary, but the picture of the flying lizard the ministry had posted on Facebook has never been seen before.

“I used to be a hunter and cut down trees in the forest and wasn’t interested in conservation. But I became a conservationist. In all those years in Prey Lang, I have never seen this flying lizard. Perhaps, there are a lot of unknown species there,” he said.

Sok supported the study plan as it will help natural resources to be conserved and protected in a sustainable manner for future generations.

Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra was not immediately available for comment on March 4. But in a Facebook post the previous day, the ministry confirmed that rangers from provincial environment department had recently photographed flying lizards in the sanctuary while researching gibbons.

A specialist from the General Department of Nature Protection and Conservation who asked not to be name said that according to the picture, it is a male flying lizard with a long dewlap (fold or flap of skin on the neck). If it was a female flying lizard, she would have a short dewlap.

The species resides in dense forest, semi-dense forest and mixed forest in the west of the Mekong River such as the Cardamom Mountains and Prey Lang forest.

The specialist said the species eats insects such as ants, termites and flying termites. In general, they live in the trees and fly from one tree to another. But they can only fly from a higher location to a lower one.