Camera Traps Capture Rare Cambodian Wildlife

GLAND, Switzerland, January 10, 2002 (ENS) - Using automatic infrared cameras triggered by the passage of wildlife, Cambodian researchers aided by World Wildlife Fund and the Wildlife Conservation Society photographed rare species for the first time in Cambodia, the World Wildlife Fund said today.

In the Kirirom National Park, surveyors sighted the elusive spotted linsang, a slender cat-like carnivore. It was the first time this species had been recorded in Cambodia.

Tigers and leopards, clouded leopards, marbled cats, sun bears, Asian elephants, Asian wild dogs, and gaur and banteng, two species of wild cattle were among the species caught in the camera traps.

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Golden cat captured by a camera trap in Cambodia (Photo courtesy WWF)
In total, the surveys revealed more than 60 varieties of large mammals, including eight primate species and six cat species.

Seng Teak, program coordinator for World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said, "This effort is an important first step toward identifying where we are going to have the greatest chance of conserving critically endangered wildlife species in Cambodia."

Since 1895, the Wildlife Conservation Society has worked from its headquarters at the Bronx Zoo in New York City to save wildlife and wild lands throughout the world.

WWF, an independent foundation based in Switzerland, is a global organization working in 40 countries on practical field projects, scientific research, advising local and national governments on environmental policy, promoting environmental education, and raising awareness of environmental issues.

The two groups believe that Cambodia may offer some of the best opportunities for long term conservation of tigers in Indochina if poaching can be minimized, a problem WWF is addressing on several fronts.

"Years of war and its tragic aftermath may have kept people from plundering this treasure trove of wildlife," said Judy Mills, coordinator of WWF's tiger program. "But today, people are flocking to extract the forest's riches. These photos prove the extreme urgency of getting wildlife laws and anti-poaching measures in place in Cambodia."

Many of the species caught on camera now live outside national parks in forest areas that have been set aside for logging. The results illustrate the need to strengthen Cambodia's system of protected areas, the two groups say.

WCS and WWF have been training local Cambodians in wildlife conservation methods since 1998. These first trainees have now become trainers themselves, passing on their skills to other Cambodian staff who want to protect their country's wildlife.

The latest surveys, along with research of birds, reptiles, and amphibians supported by the Wildlife Conservation Society, represent the most comprehensive efforts to date exploring the range of wildlife diversity across Cambodia.