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.
A volunteer holds tubing used as a hose during last year’s fires in Prek Toal. Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon
Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon and Khouth Sophak Chakrya The Phnom Penh Post, Tue, 14 November 2017
The first dedicated research unit for studying wildfires in upper Asean countries, including Cambodia, could provide invaluable research data to help governments address the issue, scientists and conservationists said yesterday.
“There is no existing focus or direct research center or special research unit that deals directly with wildland fires, smoke and haze under vegetation types, geographic conditions, weather patterns and related human behaviors of mainland Southeast Asia,” reads the founding statement of the Upper Asean Wildland Fire Special Research Unit (WFSRU).
Established last month within Thailand’s Kasetsart University, the unit aims to fill a significant gap in the region’s knowledge and research on wildfires, forest fires and their impacts on the environment and human society and health in Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar.
One of its three founders, Dr Veerachai Tanpipat, said the unit’s activities fall under the Global Wildland Fire Network, which was mandated in 2004 by the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.
“It will act as a focal point to provide all necessary fire, smoke and haze scientific and management knowledge to interested parties,” he said in an email.
According to Tanpipat, the “main purpose” of the unit would be to provide governments, like Cambodia’s, with practical information to address their wildfire problems.
“Fire is a big issue in Cambodia’s forests,” said Simon Mahood, a senior technical advisor for the NGO Wildlife Conservation Society. (more…)
Soth Koemsoeun, The Phnom Penh Post Fri, 17 November 2017
A $1 million supercar was totalled in Koh Kong province after the truck transporting it crashed with another truck on Tuesday. Police claim they do not know the owner of what appears to be a McLaren P1. Social media was abuzz with rumours about the owner of the luxury car, which runs anywhere from $1 million to $1.3 million, before tax. Only 375 units of the British supercar exist in the world.
Sok Thorn, police chief of Botum Sakor district, said the truck carrying the McLaren collided with another truck transporting goods from Phnom Penh to Koh Kong’s Andong Teuk commune. Five people were injured in the crash, according to Thorn.
‘The police took the two trucks and one car to be kept at Botum Sakor District Police Station and are waiting for the procedure to be handled,’ said Thorn. He added that police do not know who caused the crash and are waiting for the owner of the car to come to the police station to settle the case.
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.
Newly-hatched Siamese crocodiles at the Koh Kong Reptile Conservation Center. Wildlife Conservation Society
Yesenia Amaro, The Phnom Penh Post Wed, 16 August 2017
Nine critically endangered Siamese crocodiles emerged from their eggs on Friday, with more expected to hatch soon, the Wildlife Conservation Society announced yesterday.
The nine eggs, which hatched at the Koh Kong Reptile Conservation Center, were among 19 discovered in a nest in late June in Koh Kong’s Sre Ambel district.
The remaining 10 eggs are still being monitored, and a few more are expected to hatch in the coming days, said WCS Communications Officer Eng Mengey.
“It was the first nest recorded in the Sre Ambel River system” in the last 10 years, he said. In 1992, the species was reported as ‘virtually extinct in the wild’, and it has been listed as critically endangered since 1996, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The population of the species is ‘declining at an alarming rate’, according to a statement from the WCS.
“The total population is around 410 wild adults, of which 100 to 300 live in Cambodia, making it the most important country for the conservation of this species.”
The crocodiles will be housed at the centre until they are old enough to survive in the wild. Threats to the species’ survival include illegal hunting, degradation, decrease of natural food supply and weak law enforcement, according to the statement. They are mainly found in remote parts of southwest and northeast Cambodia.