Danielle Keeton-Olsen | The Phnom Penh Post Publication date 07 December 2017 | 06:52 ICT
Cambodia’s beloved Irrawaddy dolphins are facing troubled waters, with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) yesterday flagging the riverine mammal as ‘critically endangered’ in an update to its ‘Red List’.
The dolphins are often caught in gillnets, which cast broad tangles of net that create the greatest threat to the freshwater mammals, according to the IUCN release. Overfishing of the dolphins’ food sources and habitat destruction have also led to a 50 percent drop in population in the past 60 years, the release said. Randall Reeves, chair of the IUCN SSC Cetacean Specialist Group, said in an IUCN release that the dolphin is a major tourism draw along the Mekong River, especially in Cambodia.
“While the protected status of the species means that deliberate hunting or capture is rare or non-existent, protection from entanglement and other threats is either lacking entirely or largely ineffective,” Reeves said. Youk Senglong, deputy executive director for the Fisheries Action Coalition Team (FACT), yesterday acknowledged illegal fishing as a contributing factor to the dolphins’ decline, but he pointed to hydropower dams upstream on the Mekong as the most serious source of trauma.
“Now the Irrawaddy is really in danger, and there should be prompt and effective intervention from the government and other relevant stakeholders, such as development partners, to conserve it,” he said in an email.
Post Staff, The Phnom Penh Post Tue, 3 October 2017
Fifty endangered sarus cranes have hatched from 27 nests protected by conservationists and villagers in Cambodia’s Northern Plains, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). The nests are in Kulen Promtep and Chhep wildlife sanctuaries.
‘We hired 44 local villagers to protect these nests because they can be threatened by consumption, by wild pigs or domestic dogs, egg collection by local people and flooding,’ said Mao Khean, a wildlife research project coordinator with WCS, in a press release. ‘Ultimately, 26 nests were successful and one nest was flooded by rain.
Fifty new chicks hatched and left the nests.’ Under the project, teams were hired to protect the vulnerable nests of the cranes, which are the world’s tallest flying birds. One of those hired, Sen Neil, said in the press release that he spent almost two months guarding the nest with other villagers.
‘We worked hard to guard against egg collection and predators until the two chicks were hatched, and left the nest with their parents,’ he said. According to WCS, 500 cranes live in Cambodia and can reach up to 1.65 metres tall.
Leonie Kijewski/Image courtesy Wildlife Conservation Society
Andrew Nachemson, The Phnom Penh Post Tue, 12 September 2017
Four endangered hog deer, once thought to be extinct in Cambodia, were caught on camera in Kratie province for the first time in a decade, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The nocturnal deer triggered a camera trap in the Mekong Flooded Forest set by WWF-Cambodia on Sunday night and in the early hours of yesterday morning. In a statement, WWF-Cambodia said researchers also found evidence of young hog deer hoofprints, inspiring hope of a population increase.
The hog deer species was believed to be extinct in Cambodia until 2006, when it was rediscovered in Kratie. However, they have not been seen again until now. ‘This is fabulous news, and it clearly reflects the hard work of community members . . . these sightings are encouraging and inspiring,’ said WWF-Cambodia Country Director Seng Teak.
‘However, hunting pressure remains a challenge and we must eliminate it.’ Hog deer are listed as ‘endangered’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of threatened species.
The pigeon has side-mounted eyes, unlike humans and owls which have forward facing eyes. As pigeons have monocular vision rather than binocular vision they bob their heads for depth of perception. The pigeon’s eyes function much better with stationary images and therefore as the pigeon takes a step forward the head is temporarily left behind. The next step jerks the head forward again and so on. This allows the bird to correctly orient itself.
The Bengal florican, a critically endangered species, faces the threat of extinction due to commercial dry-season rice cultivation in Cambodia’s Tonle Sap floodplains. MATTHEW KWAN/WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY
Phak Seangly and Jovina Chua The Phnom Penh Post, Fri, 9 June 2017
The increase in commercial dry-season rice cultivation in Cambodia’s Tonle Sap floodplain is threatening the survival of the critically endangered Bengal florican, a new study suggests.
Conducted by researchers from the Imperial College of London, the University of Oxford and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the study, which was published in the international journal of conservation Oryx on May 29, surveyed 616 households in 21 villages on their livelihood activities at the Tonle Sap Floodplain Protected Landscape in Kampong Thom and Siem Reap provinces.
Results showed a sharp increase in the number of farmers who have adopted dry-season rice cultivation since 2005. Among these farmers, almost half grew more than one crop per year.
According to the study, not only does the rice cultivation encroach on breeding areas, agro-chemical use affects the species’ food source.
As opposed to cultivating just one crop per year, which “doesn’t overlap much with the florican breeding season”, the cultivation of two crops annually “means that the fields are flooded throughout the time when the floricans are trying to breed”, WCS’s Senior Technical Advisor Simon Mahood explained in an email yesterday.
He said that the increase in dry-season rice adoption could be attributed to its profitability and reliability.“Irrigation infrastructure has been improved and farming methods have been mechanised, so they are able to grow two crops instead of one,” he added.
With less than 800 of these rare birds left globally, Cambodia is the home of more than half, and is therefore “the most important country worldwide for Bengal florican conservation”, according to the WCS. (more…)
New hatchlings of Cambodia’s national reptile, the royal turtle, were taken to the Koh Kong Reptile Conservation Centre yesterday. WCS
Khouth Sophak Chakrya and Yesenia Amaro The Phnom Penh Post, Thu, 11 May 2017
After spending the last three months under the watchful eye of their own personal retinue of bodyguards, nine endangered royal turtles successfully broke free from their shells on Tuesday and were transferred to the Koh Kong Reptile Conservation Centre, where they will be raised.
The nest of the critically endangered Batagur affinis turtle was discovered in February by a villager along the Kaong River in Koh Kong, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) said yesterday. The Fisheries Administration and the WCS built a fence to protect the eggs and hired four villagers to guard the nest in Sre Ambel district’s Preah Ang Keo village until the eggs hatched, said Eng Mengey, WCS’s communications officer.
“There are only a few royal turtles left in the wild,” Mengey said. The royal turtle is classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which tracks threatened species. Five other eggs in the nest did not hatch.
The turtle was believed extinct in Cambodia until 2000, when a small population was discovered by the Fisheries Administration and WCS in the Sre Ambel River system, Mengey said.
There are now 216 royal turtles living at the Koh Kong centre, and another 27 at the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity, Mengey said.
Fisheries Administration official Ouk Vibol said some 20 young royal turtles will be released into the wild in June or July.