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.
A rescued baby pangolin is released in the forest by an Indonesian government wildlife and conservation officer in 2012 after Indonesian police intercepted 85 endangered pangolins from suspected smugglers. AFP
Shaun Turton, The Phnom Penh Post
Thu, 29 September 2016
Yesterday was hailed as a “good day for pangolins” after a meeting of signatories to the CITES wildlife protection treaty decided to move the Asian species of “scaly anteater” to the agreement’s Appendix 1 category, which bans all commercial trade in the small mammals in the region.
The proposal to elevate the creature, the most-trafficked in the world, according to a recent study by San Francisco-based NGO WildAid, was one of a number voted on at the 17th conference of CITES parties, in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The decision follows years of dramatic population decline among the elusive animals, which are hunted and sold for their meat in China and Vietnam, where some believe they have medicinal qualities.
The species found in Cambodia and other parts of Southeast Asia – the sunda pangolin – is listed as critically endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list, which states “virtually no” information is available on population numbers.
Speaking yesterday, Nick Marx, director of wildlife rescue and care programs for Wildlife Alliance in Cambodia, said that though the pangolin’s endangered status already prescribed punishments for trading, he hoped the CITES ruling would further boost protection efforts.
“Hopefully this will make things even safer. Pangolins have been reduced in numbers hugely everywhere in the world, they fetch a high price and they’re heavily traded,” he said, adding his organisation had confiscated about two or three of the animal in recent months. “It is illegal here, there are laws protecting them. Our rescue team was confiscating pangolins quite frequently before, and now much less so, because their number has been seriously reduced.”
Fisheries Administration of cial In Hul holds a royal turtle at the old center in Sre Ambel district. It and another 205 royal turtles will be moved to a new center in Mondol Seima district on Tuesday. KT/Ven Rathaavong
Khmer Times/Ven Rathavong Tuesday, 13 September 2016
More than 200 critically endangered royal turtles will be moved to a new center in Koh Kong’s Mondol Seima district today with 13 Siamese crocodiles also being relocated.
Eng Mengey, communications officer for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), said royal turtles were now facing threats to their survival because of habitat loss.
A total of 206 turtles, including babies, will be transferred to the new center as well as 13 Siamese crocodiles.
He added that the new Koh Kong Reptile Conservation Center was founded by the WCS and Fisheries Administration (FiA).
The royal turtle, also known as the southern river terrapin (Batagur affinis), was designated Cambodia’s national reptile in 2005. It was listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature earlier this year and added to their Red List of Threatened Species.
Mr. Mengey said the royal turtle was believed to be extinct in Cambodia until 2000, when the WCS and FiA discovered a small number of the turtles in Koh Kong province’s Sre Ambel district where the river meets the sea.
He said both institutions started protecting turtle nests and collected the babies for conservation at the old center in Sre Ambel district. They will be released into the wild once the turtles are better able to survive.
“We are transferring them to the new center because the old one is small and old and has been used for more than 10 years,” Mr. Mengey said. “The new center is bigger and of higher quality for feeding royal turtles’ babies and crossbreeding.” (more…)
Squirrels are familiar to almost everyone. More than 200 squirrel species live all over the world, with the notable exception of Australia.
The tiniest squirrel is the aptly named African pygmy squirrel—only five inches (thirteen centimeters) long from nose to tail. Others reach sizes shocking to those who are only familiar with common tree squirrels. The Indian giant squirrel is three feet (almost a meter) long.
Like other rodents, squirrels have four front teeth that never stop growing so they don’t wear down from the constant gnawing. Tree squirrels are the types most commonly recognized, often seen gracefully scampering and leaping from branch to branch. Other species are ground squirrels that live in burrow or tunnel systems, where some hibernate during the winter season.
Ground squirrels eat nuts, leaves, roots, seeds, and other plants. They also catch and eat small animals, such as insects and caterpillars. These small mammals must always be wary of predators because they are tasty morsels with few natural defenses, save flight. Sometimes groups of ground squirrels work together to warn each other of approaching danger with a whistling call.
Tree squirrels are commonly seen everywhere from woodlands to city parks. Though they are terrific climbers, these squirrels do come to the ground in search of fare such as nuts, acorns, berries, and flowers. They also eat bark, eggs, or baby birds. Tree sap is a delicacy to some species.
Flying squirrels are a third, adaptable type of squirrel. They live something like birds do, in nests or tree holes, and although they do not fly, they can really move across the sky. Flying squirrels glide, extending their arms and legs and coasting through the air from one tree to another. Flaps of skin connecting limbs to body provide a winglike surface. These gliding leaps can exceed 150 feet (46 meters). Flying squirrels eat nuts and fruit, but also catch insects and even baby birds.
Whether they dwell high in a tree or in an underground burrow, female squirrels typically give birth to two to eight offspring. Babies are blind and totally dependent on their mothers for two or three months. Mothers may have several litters in a year, so most squirrel populations are robust.
A leopard walks through a section of Mondulkiri Protected Forest in the Kingdom’s Eastern Plains in 2009. WWF
Erin Handley, The Phnom Penh Post
Fri, 5 August 2016
Indochinese leopards should be classified as endangered, according to a new report that highlights the dwindling numbers of the species in Cambodia and Southeast Asia.
The study, published in Biological Conservation earlier this week, estimated a regional population of between 973 and 2,503 of the mammals.
Cambodia is thought to have just 132 leopards, with between 18 and 55 of those adults believed capable of breeding.
In Mondulkiri province the leopard, which is listed as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, saw a 70 per cent decline between 2009 and 2014. Only two leopards have been detected in Preah Vihear province in the past three years.
“Poaching for the wildlife trade was likely the main reason for the decline of leopard numbers,” the report noted. “Recently interviewed poachers . . . received $55–$60 per [kilogram] of leopard bones from Vietnamese traders.
“Unless more effective protection is provided, poaching might soon lead to the extirpation of the leopard population in Eastern Plains Landscape, similar to that recently observed for tiger.”
Wildlife Alliance founder Suwanna Gauntlett said there had been no sign of the leopard in the southwest Cardamom Mountains for more than a decade: “Leopards have mostly disappeared from protected areas in Cambodia due to weak law enforcement and heavy poaching.”
Ministry of Environment spokesman Sao Sopheap said the drop in numbers was concerning, adding that the ministry was training more rangers to improve capacity and law enforcement.