The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has collaborated with the Forestry Administration and the Wildlife Alliance on a project aimed at reintroducing wildlife to the Angkor Archaeological Park.

Since its inception in 2013, the project has successfully released over 40 animals, representing more than 10 rare species, in the park.

Chou Radina, deputy director of the Department of Forestry Management at ANA, emphasised that the release of wildlife in Angkor Archaeological Park not only enhances its historical significance but also transforms it into a natural tourist attraction. Visitors can now enjoy the beauty of the forest and observe wildlife firsthand.

“This addition will undoubtedly attract more tourists. As visitors pass through the Angkor Archaeological Park, where we have released these magnificent creatures, they will be enticed to witness the spectacle,” he said.

Radina added that the working group is currently devising plans to introduce additional species to the park. However, they are being cautious in the selection process to ensure the release of these animals does not compromise the safety of the tourists. Among the species being considered for release in the near future are deer.

Nick Marx, the director of wildlife rescue and care at Wildlife Alliance, said that the released wildlife includes monkeys, vultures, hornbills, peacocks, and other species.

Marx emphasised that the destruction caused by humans, not wild animals, is the problem. He highlighted a recent incident in which a hairy-nosed otter (Lutra sumatrana) tragically died in the Angkor Archaeological Park due to trapping.

“I urge people to cease setting snares in the forest. It is essential for the government to penalise wildlife poachers to prevent the extinction of these species,” Marx urged.

Despite the presence of patrols in Angkor Park and the forests protected by the Wildlife Alliance, perpetrators still manage to set snares.

Neth Pheaktra, secretary of state and spokesman for the Ministry of Environment, stressed the law governing protected areas and forests includes provisions for fines and imprisonment for those found guilty of hunting and trapping offences that harm rare species.

“The enactment of the Code on Environment and Natural Resources by the National Assembly, along with the existing laws on protected areas and forests, strengthens our efforts to conserve wildlife,” he said.

He stressed the need for a shift in societal habits and a reduced reliance on natural resources in the face of Cambodia’s burgeoning economic growth.

By adopting these measures, the authorities hope to safeguard the precious wildlife in the Angkor area and promote sustainable tourism for generations to come.