Endangered croc eggs hatch

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.

Posted on: August 16, 2017 9:31 am

As its rabies plan lags, Cambodia feels the bite

A 3-year-old patient at the Pasteur Institute shows her dog bite. Hong Menea

Despite killing some 800 people in the Kingdom each year, rabies has been largely off the public health radar. Plans are in the works for a nationwide response, but can funding catch up?


When her 15-year-old daughter Thai Sopheak was bitten by a dog last month, Kat Soklim took no chances. She had known a man from a nearby village who died following a dog bite the year before, and she wasn’t going to let her daughter suffer the same fate.

Sopheak is one of the lucky ones; for the past month, she has been leaving her village in Kampong Cham’s Prey Chhor district every few days at 6 in the morning to head to Phnom Penh. Her destination is the Pasteur Institute’s vaccination centre, where she can get postexposure rabies treatment against the otherwise incurable virus.

Rabies, which is known as chkae chkuot or “mad dog” disease in Khmer, has a 100 percent fatality rate if a patient isn’t vaccinated before the disease takes hold, and it is estimated to kill as many as 800 people – disproportionately children – each year in the Kingdom. Nonetheless, there is currently no national programme to address the disease, and a lack of resources persists when it comes to vaccinating both people and animals.

“It’s years late,” Dr Ly Sowath, who is in charge of the rabies vaccination centre at the Pasteur Institute, said of a nationwide rabies strategy.

Patients wait for shots at the Pasteur clinic, which sees 60 visitors per day. Hong Menea

“The progress is rather slow in putting together a national programme compared to programs for dengue or malaria or tuberculosis.”

In part because of this, access to the vaccine – which if administered in time is completely safe and effective – is extremely limited. People are often forced to take hours-long journeys to the only trusted vaccination centres, which are in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap – a precaution they will only take if they are aware of the disease and can afford the travel.

From the day her bitten neighbour died, Soklim said, “people in the villages knew about it by word of mouth”.

“So whenever there is a dog-biting case, we hurry to the hospital,” she continued, adding that while she was offered a vaccination at her local district health centre, she did not trust it, nor did she want to pay for it. At the Pasteur Institute, vaccinations are heavily subsidised. (more…)

Posted on: August 11, 2017 4:19 am

Florican population faces extinction threat

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…)

Posted on: June 8, 2017 10:03 pm

Royal turtles are taken to conservation centre

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.

Posted on: May 10, 2017 9:01 pm

Herd of elephants rescued from muddy bomb crater

Eleven wild elephants, including a baby, were rescued from a mud-filled bomb crater in Mondulkiri province on Saturday after languishing in the swampy waters for four days. Keo Sopheak/Mondulkiri Province Environmental Office/AFP

Mech Dara, The Phnom Penh Post
Mon, 27 March 2017

Eleven wild elephants were rescued on Saturday in Mondulkiri’s Keo Seima protected area after becoming trapped in a former bomb crater without food for four days, though rangers will continue to monitor the herd to ensure it reaccepts one juvenile who was handled by humans during the rescue.

Olly Griffin, a technical advisor with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), said the operation was a “big team effort” between civil society groups, government authorities and local villagers.

“A large part of the credit goes to the local people from the area, who showed concern and compassion for the plight of the elephants,” Griffin said yesterday.

The 3-metre-deep bomb crater had been repurposed as a water storage pond, and Griffin said the elephants may have been seeking water when they became trapped.

People gather around a mud-filled crater in the Keo Seima protected area in which 11 wild elephants became trapped five days ago. AKP


Posted on: March 27, 2017 6:13 am

Wild elephants rescued from muddy bomb crater in Cambodia

There are believed to only several hundred endangered Asian elephants in Cambodia, according to conservation groups AFP/John MACDOUGALL

AFP News 25 March 2017

Eleven wild elephants, including a baby, were rescued from a mud-filled bomb crater in Cambodia on Saturday after languishing in the swampy waters for four days, an environmental official said.

“They got in there to drink water and could not get out,” Keo Sopheak, the head of the environmental office in eastern Mondulkiri province, told AFP.

He said the three-meter-deep mud pit, created by a bomb during the country’s civil war, was located in a protected forest area and had been enlarged by local villagers to store water.

The elephants were discovered in the crater on Friday, said Keo Sopheak, with only their rounded backs and heads poking out of the mud pool.

“We had to dig away the edge of the crater by hand to make a path,” the official said, adding that rescuers also pumped water into the crater to thin out the sludge and help the animals climb out.

The elephants lumbered back into the jungle after their rescue.

“They could have died if they had not been spotted,” added Keo Sopheak. (more…)

Posted on: March 26, 2017 9:30 am