WCS report studies ‘key species’

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The report studied populations of 13 ‘key species’. Environment Ministry

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) released a report analysing the populations of 13 key species living in Mondulkiri province’s Keo Seima Wilflife Sanctuary over the past 10 years.

The report said black-shanked doucs, yellow-cheeked gibbons, long-tailed macaques and wild pigs had stable populations. Pig-tailed macaques and green peafowls increased their populations during the 10-year timeframe.

Species in decline were Germain’s silver langurs, stump-tailed macaques, Northern red muntjacs, banteng, gaur, Eld’s deer and sambar.

The WCS could not estimate populations for Eld’s deer or sambar because their populations are too low.

The report said: “Through general observation, [we observed that] wild animals who like to find food on the trees have stable or increasing [populations], while animals who find food on land are decreasing [in population]. It is caused by things like illegal hunting using traps or dogs.”

The WCS noted in the report that the threat to natural resources and biodiversity in Cambodia is high despite protection efforts.

Olly Griffin, a data analyst and operations technical adviser at the WCS, said in a press release: “These results highlight the substantial positive impact conservation activities have had on the globally important biodiversity of Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary, such as maintaining a large, stable population of a critically endangered primate, and an increasing population of endangered green peafowl.”

The report looked at wildlife data in relation to the efforts made by the Keo Seima REDD+ conservation project. The population trends predicted 10 years ago for the sanctuary mostly held true. The two exceptions were the Germain’s silver langur and the stump-tailed macaque that were expected to maintain stable populations but instead experienced a decline.

If the conservation project were to stop its operations, all 13 key species in the sanctuary are expected to decline in population, the report said. With the project in place, six of the 13 key species are expected to remain stable while four are expected to experience a slower rate of decline.

Ministry of Environment spokesman and secretary of state Neth Pheaktra said the protected area is important for conserving wild animals and biodiversities. Specifically, he said, it provided homes to Asian elephants, yellow-cheeked gibbons, black-shanked doucs, many types of birds and 75 other types of animals and plants listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) red list.

“Today, the environment ministry and the WCS would like to announce that concern regarding the extinction of animals has dropped because black-shanked douc, yellow-cheeked crested gibbon, long-tailed macaque and wild pig populations are stable. Other animals like the Northern pig-tailed macaque and the green peafowl are increasing,” he said.

Sot Vandoeun, the WCS wildlife monitoring team coordinator, said: “The Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary biodiversity monitoring team is proud of their work over 10 years in collecting this high-quality data, with the teams walking a combined total of 9,460km during these surveys.”

“With both indigenous Bunong and Khmer team members, we all work hard to protect Cambodia’s precious wildlife, and call on other Cambodians to do the same,” Vandoeun said.

Pheaktra said Cambodia has rich biodiversity and is home to endangered and rare animals.

In a report released in 2010, the environment ministry said Cambodia was home to 123 species of mammals, 545 species of birds, 88 species of reptiles, 2,308 species of vascular plants, 874 species of fish, 24 species of hard corals, 14 species of soft corals, 10 species of seagrass and 63 species of amphibians.

Pheaktra said some species of plants and animals had not yet been identified. However, 39 species of mammals, 36 species of birds, 13 species of reptiles, 38 species of plants and 12 species of amphibians in Cambodia were put on the IUCN’s red list.