WCS: Clock ticking to save endangered clouded leopard

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
In Cambodia, the clouded leopard lives in the northeast, southwest and north of the country. WCS

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Ministry of Environment are requesting help to save the endangered clouded leopard and its habitat from extinction.

WCS country director Ken Serey Rotha told The Post on Thursday the clouded leopard is listed as a rare animal by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and is under threat around the world.

In Cambodia, the clouded leopard lives in the northeast, southwest and north of the country.

“There is no study about this animal in Cambodia as yet, but we have observed that clouded leopard numbers are dropping in some regions of the Kingdom.

“The population has declined due to the loss of habitat and food shortages. The clouded leopard is a threatened species,” Rotha said.

The first photographs of the clouded leopard in the northern plains of Cambodia were taken in Preah Vihear during a WCS-supported PhD survey.

It was conducted by Tokyo Metropolitan University wildlife conservationist Ai Suzuki in collaboration with the Forestry Administration in 2012-2013.

Besides the clouded leopard, the team captured photographs of 30 other rare animals, including the Asian elephant, sun bear, gaur and other birds in the regions.

“The northern highlands of Cambodia are important rare shelters for endangered animals as well as places where other wild animals live,” Rotha said.

Rotha said clouded leopards are found from the Himalayas down to southern China, Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Burma, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

“Because of its attractiveness, this beautiful animal has become a target for hunters and poachers. The destruction of their habitat has also contributed to their decline.

“Scientists and conservationists are working to understand more about their numbers, but it’s difficult because clouded leopards are nocturnal,” he said.

Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said to protect endangered animals and biodiversity in Cambodia, citizens must take part in protecting wild animals and prevent land encroachment, hunting, trapping and the consumption of wild animals.