Following the release of a new census which revealed the presence of more than 700 species in over 30,000 hectares of mangrove forest in Koh Kong province, environmental officials are seeking partners to work together to strengthen the effectiveness of conservation work for the natural resources in the area.

The survey was led by Fauna & Flora's Cambodia team and the Cambodian Fishing Cat Project, in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment. It focused on assessing the Peam Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary (PKWS), at 23,750ha, and the adjacent Koh Kapik Ramsar site, which covers 12,000ha. Together, they make up Cambodia’s largest expanse of mangrove forest and one of the largest in mainland Southeast Asia.

The objective of the study was to review existing information and assess plant species diversity in the mangrove ecosystem of the sanctuary. The updated list of plant species in the PKWS will provide baseline data for site-specific management and mangrove conservation efforts at the site.

The report represents the first comprehensive biodiversity survey of Cambodia's largest mangrove forest. The findings provide a basic understanding of the area's biodiversity, with more new species expected to be identified through future research.

The report highlights the importance of mangrove forests for a wide variety of plants and species, from bats to birds and other vertebrates, and demonstrates the need to protect aging mangroves in Cambodia and around the world.

“Our new survey has discovered the existence of over 700 species in Cambodia’s mangroves,” it stated, adding that the survey uncovered a wide variety of species, such as the critically endangered Sunda pangolin, endangered long-tailed macaque, hairy-nosed otter, large-spotted civet and vulnerable fishing cat.

Fishing cats are a vulnerable species which can be found in the Kingdom's mangroves. Fauna & Flora Cambodia

“The results provide a first glimpse at the biodiversity of the area, but we are certain that future in-depth surveys are expected to uncover a wealth of discoveries, potentially revealing more species yet to be documented,”  Fauna & Flora Cambodia said, via social media.

In addition to demonstrating the value of mangroves for both people and nature, it revealed 74 species of fish living in the surveyed area, many of which are commercially important for local fishers.

According to the study, a total of 157 bird species, including 15 species listed on the IUCN Red List as Near Threatened to Endangered have been recorded across the two sites in recent years, rendering the site highly significant for bird conservation. 

The results provided in this report highlight the conservation value of the Peam Krasop  and Koh Kapik mangrove forests, and can serve to underpin stronger management of the area, as well as inform initiatives such as eco-tourism and further research.

The report also suggested that protection and patrolling activities should be conducted regularly in order to ensure that no further disturbance to these areas takes place.

Long tailed crab eating macaques are an endangered species. Fauna & Flora Cambodia

Koh Kong environment department director Hun Marady explained that his department and the environment ministry collaborated on the study. 

Despite a series of discoveries of wildlife in the past, more detailed studies are needed in the future, he said.

He added that the department and the ministry are working to protect and conserve all areas where rare species are known to be present.

“We are currently enforcing the law and working to preserve the area, while also educating the local population so they can participate in its conservation,” he said.

He claimed that there are no significant animal poaching crimes in these areas, although sometimes there were a few small-scale crimes. 

“The department is also looking for partners to work with so we can strengthen the effectiveness of our activities,” he said.

“At present, we are working with local communities to conduct regular patrols,” he added.