Country Director of WWF-Cambodia Mr. Seng Teak took the National Environment Day and World Environment Day 2020 to share WWF’s commitment to work with the government to preserve and protect endangered animal in Kingdom’s Eastern Plains and Mekong Flooded Forests landscapes.
According to his statement, about 60 years ago, Cambodia, especially the country’s northeastern plains, was described by world’s renowned scientists as the “Wildlife Paradise”. One of the first wildlife documentary films ever produced in 1950 featured the presence of many important wildlife, such as Kou Prey, Wild Water Buffalo, Banteng, and Guar among many other animals.
Since then, the numbers of these wildlife have steadily declined due to a series of threats, including war, human activities and other development factors. These threats have caused some wildlife species to disappear from Cambodia and fail to reproduce, including Kou Prey, Wild Water Buffalo, and Tiger.
Today, he said, many important species of wildlife such as Indochinese Leopard, Asian Elephant, Banteng, Gaur, Hog Deer, Eld’s Deer, Siamese Crocodile, Giant Ibis, White-shoulder Ibis, Vultures, Sarus Crane, Mekong Irrawaddy Dolphin, Giant Barb, Giant Catfish, Giant Freshwater Stingray and other important wildlife are discovered still roaming forests and the rivers in Cambodia.
However, these wildlife are threatened by substantial pressures from human activities, including poaching, snaring, illegal fishing, wildlife trafficking and habitat loss.
Over the past 20 years, he continued, WWF has been working closely with the Royal Government of Cambodia and partners to protect these wildlife and their natural habitats by supporting protected areas management; law enforcement against illegal poaching, wildlife and timber trade and land encroachment. In addition, WWF has been implementing wildlife and biodiversity research and monitoring; community development programme promoting livelihoods alternatives and new income sources for local communities; providing environmental education and outreach; and promoting private partnership.
However, more conservation efforts are needed to protect the remaining wildlife and biodiversity from disappearing.
On the occasion of the National and World Environment Day 2020, WWF urges relevant authorities to continue their rigorous efforts of law enforcement and to impose serious penalties on criminals involved in poaching, illegal logging and encroaching state forest lands in order to safeguard these national living treasures for the next generations.
“WWF stands ready to support the Royal Government of Cambodia and Cambodian people in rewilding and protecting these globally significant animals in their natural habitats in the Kingdom’s Eastern Plains and Mekong Flooded Forests landscapes,” he said.
The Eastern Plains in Cambodia has supported 34 species of global significance, including Cambodia’s potentially largest population of elephants, the world’s important population of banteng and yellow cheeked crested gibbon, and critical populations of indo-chinese leopards. In addition, this area supports more than 334 bird species, including at least 14 listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as globally Threatened. The Eastern Plains Landscape has also been considered as a potential location to restore tiger (Panthera tigris) population in the Cambodia Tiger Action Plan (April 2016). It also holds great recovery potential for many ungulate species.
Officially designated by the Royal Government of Cambodia as a management and conservation site for biodiversity and fisheries resources in 2013, the Mekong Flooded Forest Landscape is a 56 kilometre remote section of the Mekong mainstream that passes through the Cambodian provinces of Kratie and Steung Treng.
Mekong Flooded Forest is a rich patchwork of habitats including tall riverine forest, waterways, gravel and islands. This landscape is home for many species that have almost disappeared from the rest of Southeast Asia including the iconic Irrawaddy Dolphin, Hog Deer, many endangered bird species such as White-shouldered Ibis, Vultures, River Tern, Lesser Adjutant, and other endangered species. Heng Panha/AKP