A special update from Wildlife Programs Director, Nick Marx.
Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre (PTWRC) serves as a refuge for all the animals rescued from the illegal wildlife trade. It is managed by the Cambodian Forestry Administration, and with the assistance of Wildlife Alliance, has developed into one of the best wildlife rescue centers in any developing country. In many ways, it is an inspired choice of site for such a facility. PTWRC is set in 2,300 hectares of forest, and many animals can be released here once they have recovered from their injuries. Keepers have been trained to a high standard and despite their meager salaries; they do a responsible and attentive job caring for their animals.
There are wild animals living in the surrounding forest, many of which we released. We have created teams of community rangers who patrol the area to ensure the safety of the animals and the protection of the forest. Released animals include sambar and muntjac deer, wild boar, macaques, civets, leopard cats, mongooses, jackal, porcupines and different species of birds and reptiles.
It has been a busy and difficult year at Phnom Tamao. Since mid-February our over-riding concern has been for Lucky, our 16 year old female elephant, who has been fighting for her life. Fortunately, after intensive treatment, we are now seeing improvements and can safely say that she is finally on the mend.
In just three months, there have been 139 new arrivals. These included two silvered langurs, a sun bear, a small toothed palm civet, a ferret badger, two leopard cats, a baby yellow-cheeked gibbon and two green peafowl to accompany the usual long tailed macaques, parakeets, lorises, common palm civets and pythons we see every month. The endangered yellow-cheeked gibbon is only the third of this species we have received at PTWRC. This may be because it is easier for any captured yellow-cheeked babies to be quickly transported to Vietnam before we hear about them. In Cambodia, yellow-cheeked gibbons live east of the River Mekong (closer to the Vietnamese border), while pileated gibbons, which we see very regularly, inhabit the western side.
Early in the year, feral dogs attacked a wild female sambar and her fawn in the forest. The mother sustained some injuries, but managed to escape. We captured the fawn, which sustained wounds and a broken leg. He was raised at our Nursery and has done very well. The fracture was too low down on the leg and could not be pinned, but he has recovered well. A young serow that was rescued at the end of 2014, with a bullet wound to her shoulder, has recovered and is now weaned and we must find the funds to construct an enclosure for her to pair her up with a male.
119 animals were released during the past three months into protected forest in Phnom Tamao as well as in the Southern Cardamom Mountains.
There were also 22 births at the Center, including a binturong, an Eld’s deer, an endangered fishing cat, a pig tailed macaque, and four hedgehogs. Five painted storks hatched in our water bird aviary. Sadly, in March, Cataracts, our first gibbon ever to breed at PTWRC passed away due to problems with an unborn baby. She had many babies and was a wonderful mother, caring for every one perfectly, one of which we have released into the Angkor forest. She loved people and used to take the hand of visitors and place it on her own head for a stroke! She is greatly missed.
We would like to sincerely thank you for your generous support, and for ensuring that no rescued animal is ever turned away.
- Nick Marx
We hope you will consider making your gift go further by taking advantage of GlobalGiving’s biggest Bonus Day of the year! On July 15th, donations of up to $1,000 made through GlobalGiving will be matched at 50% while funds last - hurry because funds run out quickly! With your help, we can continue to give rescued animals a second chance at life!
Guest Blog and photos by Robert Rosenthal on his visit to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center.
Pikas! Elephants! A baby macaque! The huge-eyed loris!
As great as it is to meet these incredible creatures, it’s even more exciting – to me, at least! – to learn about the teams, programs, and strategies that are supporting their rehabilitation, care, and (in many cases) return to the wild.
Since early 2014, I’ve traveled through a big part of Southeast and South Asia, exploring the work of NGOs and getting to know many great people who are working with local communities to support sustainable development and protect natural resources. This month marks the anniversary of one of my favorite visits of all, when I was fortunate to be invited to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center as a field rep of GlobalGiving, tasked with seeing the work of Phnom Tamao and its partner Wildlife Alliance in action. I thought I would share a few thoughts about my experience.
I met with Tori Evans and Emma Pollard, both Wildlife Tour guides at Phnom Tamao, as well as Amy Van Nice, International Development Manager and leader of the Kouprey Express Mobile Environmental Education program. I saw current and in-the-works animal enclosures, was introduced to newly rescued animals like a truly amazing slow loris, as well as longtime animal residents like Lucky the Elephant. I also got to watch local kids during a Kouprey Express sponsored field trip, work on wildlife conservation projects.
Most importantly for me, I got a glimpse of the team at Phnom Tamao in action on the funding side to advance its mission and shared goals.
Through good timing, the day I visited, a Cambodian business leader was making a sizable donation, and I was able to watch how the center works to magnify fundraising activities for even greater outcomes. In this case, a $5,000 gift from a local business was recognized with a well attended photo op represented by many members of the local community – a sure sign that other donors will be inspired as well. The gift will be used to pay for two new prosthetics for Chhouk, an Asian elephant who lost a foot in a trap set by rural poachers. I observed the press op, met Chhouk, and watched Chhouk's mahout changing his prosthetic. More than a dozen representatives from the company were on hand, all expertly handled throughout.
The whole experience gave me a lot of insight into the organization's ability to work closely with business leaders to advance its mission and shared goals – a huge must in today’s NGO fundraising climate.
Last week, our beautiful elephant Lucky fell critically ill with a very serious virus and was in need of urgent medical treatment. Lucky arrived at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center (PTWRC) at the tender age of 6 months. Poachers in Koh Kong province had likely killed Lucky’s mother and took her to sell on the illegal market. The Forestry Administration found her in a disheartening state and brought her to PTWRC. Sitheng, Lucky’s mahout, has been by her side since her arrival and now, 15 years later, the two remain closely bonded. Her tender nature has also made her our Elephant Ambassador, and she has since touched the hearts of thousands.We are grateful to have received an outpouring of support for Lucky, and we’d like to thank all of you for your kindness. Since the first sign of illness, the keepers and vets have not left her side and have done everything they can to provide her with physical and emotional support. Sitheng is sleeping in a hammock next to her at night to provide her with emotional comfort, and our Director, Nick Marx brings her favorite foods from Phnom Penh city to encourage her to eat. Our vets are giving her round the clock care, and we are consulting with an International vet from Thailand who flew in last week with antiviral medication that is not available in Cambodia. Her treatment costs have now exceeded $10,000 - a small price to pay for the well-being of this Endangered animal, but a large expense nonetheless. So far, we have raised close to $3,000, and we hope you will consider making a gift towards her continued care. Every little bit helps!
We are thrilled to announce that the Elephant Conservation Center at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center is officially open! Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center (PTWRC) receives approximately 300,000 visitors each year, 200,000 of which are native Cambodians. Though visitors are able to see native animals firsthand, PTWRC was sorely lacking in educational opportunities and materials. Wildlife Alliance set out to create the Elephant Conservation Center to maximize the potential for learning and conservation engagement.
The Elephant Conservation Center provides PTWRC visitors with an in-depth, interactive education on elephants, the threats elephants face in Cambodia, and solutions that can protect elephant populations. Visual and interactive educational materials are shown in Khmer and English to maximize impact among PTWRC’s diverse visitors. The visual education exhibits include educational film clips, various sign boards with information on PTWRC elephants’ rescue stories, the history of Wildlife Alliance’s Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team, elephant biology, conservation messages, the various threats elephants face in the wild, and a chart and visual representation of differences and similarities between Africa and Asian elephants. The interactive education exhibits include fun, hands-on activities for visitors. There is even a life-size model of famous PTWRC elephant, Lucky, that instructs visitors to measure around her foot and double the measured result to find out Lucky’s massive height! Gifts for purchase, such as t-shirts, neckties, and canvasses painted by Lucky, will ensure that knowledge acquired at PTWRC follows the visitor back home. Additionally, the gifts for sale will generate sustainable revenue towards the care of PTWRC’s elephants.
The Elephant Conservation Center’s unique educational experience is critical for the long term conservation of this iconic species in Cambodia, and Wildlife Alliance would like to sincerely thank the generous donors that helped make this project a huge success!
We are very excited to announce that on December 17th, a trio of endangered silvered langurs was released into the forest of Angkor Archaeological Park. Born to parents rescued from the illegal wildlife trade, the langurs were mother-raised at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center (PTWRC) and lived in a rehabilitation enclosure with limited human presence for some time. They were transferred to their release enclosure in Angkor Thom on July 20th, where they acclimated to their new surroundings for 4 months before being released. Fifteen minutes after the release door was opened, the male and one of the females left the enclosure. We were initially concerned they would leave the other female behind, however after another fifteen minutes she made her exit, and the two were waiting for her outside. Over the past few days, the langurs have stayed close to their release site and continue to take supplemental food left for them as they adjust to their new home in the wild!
The silvered langurs are the second set of animals that we have released into this protected forest. In December 2013, the Wildlife Release Project at Angkor Archaeological Park was initiated with the release of two endangered gibbons. Since then, the gibbons have quickly adapted to their new life, and even had their first baby in September! This release project is a groundbreaking new endeavor between Wildlife Alliance, the Forestry Administration and the Apsara Authority that manages the World Heritage site, to repopulate the barren forest at Angkor Archaeological Park. The Angkor temples and their surrounding forest are one the most culturally significant places in Cambodia. The 4,000 hectares of forest that surrounds the temples is now almost devoid of wildlife due to excessive and unrestricted hunting that used to take place. The area is now well protected and we are extremely fortunate to be the ones with permission to start repopulating the forests with species that used to live here.
Listed by the IUCN as Endangered, silvered langurs are beautiful tree-dwelling monkeys that have long tails and a unique salt-and-peppered coat. Infants are born with a bright orange coat and only begin developing grey fur after three months. Silvered langurs feed primarily on leaves and have a large, specialized stomach containing symbiotic bacteria that detoxifies poisonous leaves and enables them to digest leaf material more efficiently than any other primate. These incredible animals are endangered due to habitat loss, the illegal wildlife trade and use in traditional medicines. It is our hope that this monitored release program will help bolster their dwindling populations and safeguard their uncertain future. Guards have been stationed to protect the forest, and the langurs will continue to be monitored to ensure they thrive in their new home.
Help Wildlife Alliance continue to be at the forefront of conservation and wildlife protection in the Southeast Asian tropical belt, by making an end of year gift to Help Save Victimized Wildlife today!
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Communications and Finance Field Liaison