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WWF-Cambodia announces new ‘accurate’ survey of reptiles

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Two experts from Fauna and Flora International instruct a 12-member research team in the first stage of research training last week. WWF

WWF-Cambodia announces new ‘accurate’ survey of reptiles

To help conserve the critically endangered Siamese crocodile, WWF-Cambodia has announced it will conduct a survey this year to accurately record the number of the reptiles left in the wild in the Kingdom’s Eastern Plains Landscape.

The Siamese crocodile was once widespread throughout much of mainland Southeast Asia in a range of wetland habitats, including slow-moving rivers, lakes, marshes and swamps. It has now disappeared from 99 per cent of its former range, according to Fauna and Flora International (FFI).

FFI said Siamese crocodiles were today only found in Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Indonesia.

WWF-Cambodia said it held six days of research training last week so the information found while conducting the survey could be recorded as accurately as possible. Two experts from FFI instructed a 12-member research team in the first stage of training.

The trainees spent five days in the field covering the Eastern Plains Landscape, which covers Mondulkiri, Kratie, Ratanakkiri and Stung Treng provinces.

The session covered a range of research methods, such as noting the crocodiles’ dung and tracks, training in spotting the crocodile at night and finding the different habitat types preferred by the reptiles.

WWF-Cambodia said the team had discovered several encouraging signs of the crocodile during the in-the-field training, which indicates that there could still be a remaining population of the incredibly rare animal present in the Eastern Plains.

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A Siamese crocodile (supplied)

The Siamese crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis) was classified as endangered in 1994 and was placed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list as being critically endangered in 1996.

Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said the ministry supported the survey to report the presence of Siamese crocodiles.

He said the highest number of Siamese crocodiles in Cambodia was found in the protected areas of the Cardamom Mountains, especially in the Areng Valley and Tatai and Atai rivers.

Pheaktra said the Siamese crocodile has been found in Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary in Mondulkiri province, Ratanakkiri province’s Virak Chey National Park and in Preah Vihear province.

“We have concluded that there are currently between 400 and 450 Siamese crocodiles, 300 of which are capable of reproducing."

“To conserve and protect the Siamese crocodile, we need to work together to maintain their habitat and must not do anything that affects it because it is an extremely rare species,” he stressed.