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Rare deer caught on film for first time in a decade

Mom Kunthear / Khmer Times Share:
Farmers are now aware that hog deer do not pose a threat to rice crops. Supplied

Four endangered hog deer have been recorded using camera traps for the first time in a decade in Kratie province, offering hope that the population of the species may be on the rise.

According to a WWF Cambodia statement issued yesterday, three adult females and one male were photographed in the evening and early morning using an automatically triggered camera placed in the core protection zone of a 2,678-hectare area.

“The nocturnal animals were seen grazing on rice saplings and vegetation,” the statement read. “The WWF-Cambodia research team has also found evidence of young hog deer footprints around the camera trap sites.”

WWF-Cambodia researcher Channa Phan said the rice field owner who reported the deer sightings was originally opposed to protecting the species but is now one of the many community members involved in either protecting camera traps or forming part of community patrol teams.

“The rice field owners are now aware of the fact hog deer do not destroy rice crops, are useful to the ecosystem, and can create opportunities for future eco-based tourism,” said Mr Channa.

He added the photos of female and male deer, plus juvenile footprint sightings, indicate that populations can be recovered.

Hog deer, listed as a globally endangered species on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s “Red List”, were thought to be extinct in Cambodia until 2006, when they were rediscovered in Kratie province.

However, the rare species has not been seen or photographed in the wild since then.

The main threats to the hog deer include hunting and snaring for bush meat consumption, habitat loss, charcoal production, and land clearance for agriculture.

WWF-Cambodia country director Seng Teak said the sightings were fabulous news and clearly reflect the hard work of community members, as well as the joint effort between government and WWF field teams over the last few years.

“However, hunting pressure remains a challenge and we must eliminate it via close collaboration with communities, increasing our boots on the ground, and implementing effective law enforcement,” Mr Teak

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