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Efforts urged as nation’s wildlife threatened

Va Sonyka / Khmer Times Share:
Chamroeun is ordered to issue a public apology after posting a picture of himself holding a dead great hornbill, a near-threatened species, on social media. Supplied

The government and wildlife protection NGOs have recently expressed concerns about the increasing death toll of endangered species in Cambodia. The concerns were raised ahead of today’s Annual Endangered Species Day.

Khun Savoeun, an undersecretary of state of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, yesterday expressed worries over the recent death of an Irrawaddy dolphin, an endangered freshwater mammal.

He said a carcass of a dolphin calf, weighing 13 kilogrammes, was found on Monday in Stung Treng province. No scars or wounds were found on the calf, making it difficult for authorities to identify the cause of death.

In the meantime, Mr Savoeun said authorities are awaiting results of the investigation conducted by the World Wildlife Fund.

“The carcass has been sent to WWF’s office in Kratie province, where a further investigation on the calf’s age and cause of death will be done,” he told Khmer Times, adding the calf could have died due to a myriad of reasons, including poaching, getting stuck in fishnets, dam construction, climate change and so on.

The latest survey for Irrawaddy dolphins revealed only 92 dolphins remain in Cambodia’s Mekong River in the areas of Stung Treng and Kratie.

Endangered bird species are also under threat of further decimation as BirdLife International Cambodia Programme manager Bou Vorsak said bird poaching remains prevalent in the country.

Earlier this week, a local named Kroy Chamroeun posted a picture of himself holding a gun and a dead great hornbill, which he caught in Kampot province, on his Facebook account. The act was condemned by the Ministry of Environment which ordered him to make a public apology.

Mr Vorsak expressed gratefulness to the government for their prompt action regarding the matter. The great hornbill, he said, is evaluated as a near-threatened species on the International Union of Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.

In addition, he said poachers have become creative with their methods – poisoning, firing at and setting up traps to catch the animals.

“Using poison is one of the gravest among all hunting methods as it can kill many birds and other animals all at once. Some bird species are small in numbers. For instance, the vulture population in Cambodia stands at less than 300,” said Mr Vorsak.

He said several organisations in Cambodia have joined hands to preserve endangered birds, including the sarus cranes, giant ibis and vultures. Although conservationists are working round-the-clock to protect the wildlife animals, Mr Vorsak said all they can do is ensure their current population remains steady.

“There has been no increase in the number of endangered species living in Cambodia as yet. If no wildlife conservation efforts are expended, the numbers will surely decrease more,” he added.

To protect the endangered species living in Cambodia, Mr Vorsak urged the public to refrain from trading and consuming wild animals and to instead continue raising awareness about endangered animals to the community.

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