Specialists from the Ministry of Environment have immortalised two sambar deer that were hunted and killed in Preah Vihear province last year by carefully transforming their carcasses into lifelike statues.
The deer were shot in the Prey Preah Roka Wildlife Sanctuary and succumbed to their wounds in Brame commune’s Boss Thom village last October. When villagers and monks spotted the two dead deer, they organised a religious ceremony to bury them.
Ministry spokesperson Neth Pheaktra told The Post on Monday that the pair of statues was built in collaboration with the provincial Department of Environment and the Cambodia Bird Guide Association.
The purpose of the taxidermy project was to highlight the importance of preserving wild animals and foster a feeling of responsibility for the younger generation to care for them.
Pheaktra said it took more than two months for specialists to modify the carcasses, which weighed more than 200kg each. They had to rinse the deer’s skin and bones, and fashion parts of the skeleton from iron.
“Due to a lack of materials, we used iron frames to hold the sambar deer in standing poses. The height and the length of the torso and legs were measured correctly according to their actual size.
“Later, we took their skin, which was rinsed with salt water and vinegar, attached it to the skeletons and sewed them up.
“We even added cotton to some parts of the skeletons to give them fuller shapes. We inserted eyes, which were provided by a partner in Taiwan, and set antlers on them. We then let them dry and air out in the shade.”
Sambar deer are indigenous to Southeast Asia, South China, and the Indian subcontinent and are listed as a vulnerable species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Their main threats are poachers, who value them for their meat, antlers, skin and bones.
They are greyish brown, with thick and long fur growing around their neck, and their tails are short and black. Male sambar antlers range from 50-100cm long. Their antlers form three points, one in the middle and two longer points on each side.
Sambar can live in jungles or forests and forage for food early in the morning, looking for leaves, branches, fruit and grass.
During the mating season, male sambar lock antlers and fight to control an area, where they will mate with up to eight females.