The Cambodian Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) released a report yesterday showing that four species which inhabit the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary in Mondulkiri are in danger of extinction.
The report, released at the Ministry of Environment, showed the population trends of 13 wildlife species over a ten-year period.
Four of the species – the Banteng, Sambar, Gaur, and Eld’s deer – had extremely low numbers of the animals which could disappear if action is not taken.
Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said that according to the study, the decrease in the number of Northern Red Muntjac and Sambar were especially concerning, as there was a 50 percent reduction between 2014 and 2020, largely due to poachers.
Pheaktra said that Gaur and Banteng numbers are so low that experts are unsure if they will be part of future surveys, with major concern over the species’ survival in Cambodia.
“The population report in the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary is based on expert assessments. The report shows that the number of Eld’s deer, Sambar, Gaur and Banteng is alarmingly small”, he said.
“The disappearance of these species would have an ecological impact and would significantly affect the biodiversity of the park. It will in turn also adversely affect the livelihoods of forest-dependent indigenous communities,” he added.
He said the four species were especially threatened by poaching, trapping and hunting dogs.
“Poaching is the reason the number of species in Cambodia are declining,” he added.
WCS analyst and technical advisor Olly Griffin said the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary has the highest rate of biodiversity in comparison to other protected areas in Cambodia and is home to many rare and important species of wildlife.
“This detailed report shows that four of the 13 major wildlife species monitored since 2010 are now in danger of being eradicated and evidences the threats posed to animals from poaching and other human activities in Cambodia,” he said.
Head of the WCS wildlife survey team Sout Van Doeun said although the report is not positive news, he is proud of the commitment of his team and its work over the past 10 years.
“We have collected high-level data, which required each member of the team to walk some 9,460km on foot over the 10-year survey process through dense forest and terrain. They also had to deal with threats from poachers, traps and wild animals,” he said.
“We have also worked hard with the indigenous Bunong community to protect Cambodia’s precious wildlife, and we call on the people to reduce their consumption of bush meat, stop hunting endangered animals and continue to participate in the protection and conservation of all wildlife in the Kingdom,” he said.
Pheaktra also requested that authorities and relevant officials participate in preventing all environmental crimes, including the poaching and trade of wildlife.
“Decreasing the trade in illegal wildlife meat will reduce the incentive for poachers to hunt. Please participate in stopping the trade and consumption of wildlife meat,” he said.
The government has already begun to implement the National Strategic Plan for the Management of Protected Areas 2017-2031 to contribute significantly to national economic growth and sustainable development, including poverty reduction, especially through conservation and sustainable development.
Within the framework of the implementation of the policy of natural resource management reform, protected areas have increased from 23 areas with an area of 3.2 million hectares to 68 areas (65 protected areas and three biodiversity corridors) covering an area of 7.3 million hectares, equivalent to 41 percent of Cambodia’s land areas, across 20 of Cambodia’s 25 provinces.