New cameras in sanctuaries to assist conservation efforts

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Gaurs roam the Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary in Pursat province last year. Environment Ministry

The Ministry of Environment plans to install 10 more motion-censor cameras in the Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary in Pursat province this year to better observe wild animals and bolster enforcement against forestry crimes.

Spokesman Neth Pheaktra said the ministry had been cooperating with Wild Earth Allies (Cambodia) since early last year to develop efforts to search for wildlife, including with the prior installation of nine cameras. He added that the new installations would begin soon, and there would eventually be a total of 20 to 25.

“These camera-traps are not permanent installations. We move them every month to new places. Moreover, placements are made with consideration of the season so that we can identify the presence of wild animals and see where they shelter during the dry season and during the rainy season,” he said.

Pheaktra said the initial installation of the cameras had revealed many species of wildlife in the sanctuary, and it’s expected that there are many others which have not yet been observed.

“We checked the camera-traps in the past, and there have been photographs of wild elephants, gaurs, roes, Brahmin monkeys, Macaca leonine, wild dogs, bears, badgers, peacocks, herons and others,” he said.

Pheaktra explained that the purpose of the cameras is to learn which species are present and understand their migrations as well as to monitor human activities in order to safeguard the area.

“We want to know how many people enter the area and what activities they engage in so that we can provide reports to patrolmen to facilitate their work. With information regarding the presence and activities of people and animals in the area, we can conduct conservation work,” he said.

Pheaktra elaborated that data from the search will also be used for demarcating regions of the sanctuary and determining management strategies for them, particularly a core area and a conservation area where public entry will be prohibited.

“Areas found to contain many wild animals will be classified as part of the core and conservation areas. People will not be allowed to enter these areas so that they may be sanctuaries for the animals.

“After identifying the presence of animals, we will spread the word to citizens and show them the evidence so that they will understand why these areas have been demarcated as such and why entry is not allowed,” he said.