Phnom Tamao Zoological Park and Wildlife Rescue Centre has successfully bred a pair of gaur, the world’s heaviest wild bovine, which are listed on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as one of the most vulnerable species in the world.
In early January, a six-year old gaur gave birth to its first baby – a female – increasing the number of gaur in the zoo to seven. The mother gaur was the product of breeding between a male from the Paris Zoo in France and a female gaur from Mondulkiri province.
Yong Ratana, deputy head of the zoo’s conservation office, told The Post on February 2 that the January 5 birth was a great achievement for the centre. The father was a gaur from Battambang province, he added.
He said it was the fourth baby gaur that the zoo’s breeding experts – in collaboration with the Forestry Administration and Wildlife Alliance – had delivered since 2016. There were now four male and three female of the species at the zoo.
“This newborn gaur has given hope to our team, and boosted our confidence in improving the prosperity of rare species’ in Cambodia,” he said.
This March, a female gaur in Mondulkiri is due to give birth, after being bred with a male from France in May last year. The gaur from Paris has produced three offspring since 2016, two of which are male, he added.
He said that in addition to the successful gaur breeding programme, they had bred other rare and endangered species such as reindeer, leopard and fishing cats, banteng cattle, and the binturong, sometimes referred to as the bearcat. Porcupines and sambar deer had also been born at the facility, he added.
Try Sitheng, head keeper at the centre, said breeding wildlife is not easy as it requires time and careful study of the biological characteristics of each species in order to ensure success.
“It’s not just gaurs – with any animal, we have to take the time to study them carefully before we can breed them. Our subsequent success has been a driving force in motivating our team to continue their mission to restore or increase the number of rare species in Cambodia,” Sitheng said.
Yoeun Noeun, who is responsible for caring for the gaurs at the zoo, said the presence of the new gaur has inspired him.
“I was really happy to see the new baby, and I am pleased that both mother and child are healthy. The presence of this new baby has made me love my job even more because we are helping to increase the population of rare animals here in the Kingdom and this means the next generation will know these magnificent creatures,” he said.