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Jan 3, 2020

Angkor - A moment of peace...

Bayon, Tevy, and Kandop
Bayon, Tevy, and Kandop

Our work to reintroduce wild animals back into the Angkor Temples forest is progressing very well. There have been no problems or events to cause us concern recently. To some this may seem a tad dull, but we are quite used to dealing with the unexpected, we understand that the tranquility could change in an instant and me and Bunthoeun are enjoying the moment of peace and quiet.

Baray and Saranick, the pileated gibbons we released in December 2013, and their two youngsters are well. Male, Baray, is spending less time at the Zipline offices, which are on the edge of the area we released the pair. Zipline boss, Mr Todd Anthony and his staff are as interested and fond of the gibbons as we are and work in cooperation with us, helping to solve any problems that might arise due to their guests or the proximity of their operations.

Pinpeeung, or Spider, the first infant to be born, is now almost as big as her mother, Saranick. We wonder when she will feel the urge to leave her family for a wider world, in search of a mate. Chungruth (Cricket), her sibling, is also growing fast!

Bayon and Tevy, the second pair of gibbons we released, still seem a little tense at feed time, despite having two separate food baskets to feed from. At other times they get along fine, there is no aggression between the pair and I feel this could be due to the slightly neurotic nature of female, Tevy. Their children Aping (Tarantula) and Kandop (Grasshopper) are both well.

Our third pair of gibbons, currently undergoing acclimatization in preparation for release are adapting to their new environment. Borey and Pompoi were a little nervous when they first arrived in Angkor. Male Borey called down, but it has taken longer for Pompoi to accept the change. Both were captive born and although they are not ‘friendly’, they have never been mistreated and are quite used to people. The female is now becoming less nervous and secretive. They are young and we will not release them for around another year. Their enclosure is in a quiet and secluded part of the forest and their apprehension around people is a good sign, particularly when one considers the heavy human ‘traffic’ in Angkor.

Releases we have conducted of other species in this very special forest have gone extremely well. Our muntjac have moved away and we have stopped the supplementary food we were providing. Forest staff still see them on occasions and they seem well. We still capture camera trap photos of the civets we released and although the wild troupe of silvered langurs we translocated from Koh Krabie, an island being developed off the coast, are seldom seen, there is no reason to think any harm has befallen them. Langurs are predominantly leafeaters and the Angkor forest is well protected nowadays. Animals that live in the tree tops, such as gibbons and langurs, are much safer than ground dwelling species, such as deer and we are glad to have been able to provide such a safe haven for these beautiful primates.

The smoothcoated otters we took to Angkor in June are well. Hyperactive and intelligent, their enclosure is taking a small beating due to their constant motion. They lived in our Rehab Area at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center (PTWRC), which is not open to visitors, and although they are unafraid when I enter their enclosure, they are less friendly with strangers. We feed them both dead and expensive live fish, to prepare them for their life in the Angkor lakes. We also give them eels, crabs and snails to experiment with. We will release them before the end of the year and I expect them to do well, but a part of me wonders how long my peaceful life will continue once they are ‘out there’…

Jan 3, 2020

Rangers dismantle 3,200 meters (nearly 2 miles) of bird netting

Rangers from the Pangolin Station (Stung Proat) dismantled an astonishing 3,200 m or nearly two miles of bird netting in Cambodia’s Cardamom Rainforest Landscape. These nets are a form of illegal hunting that is devastating to Cambodia’s bird population. Poachers set up walls of netting and often use the calls of already captured birds or recordings to attract other birds who fly into and get caught in the net. Unsustainable levels of hunting, coupled with deforestation, is the greatest threat to wildlife in Southeast Asia, a region at the epicenter of the global extinction crisis. These rangers' heroic work to has saved hundereds, if not thousands, of bird's lives. 

Jan 3, 2020

Chhouk the elephant gets a new prosthetic

Twelve years ago, staff from WWF managed to capture a badly injured orphan Asian elephant from the Srepok Wilderness Area in Mondulkiri. The elephant looked as if the odds were against him to survive. Wildlife Alliance were called to the scene to transport him to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center, where he could get the appropriate medical treatment. However, he had lost part of one of his legs to a snare leaving him too weak to be moved. To regain the elephant’s strength, Wildlife Alliance’s Nick Marx slept in a hammock beside him, hand feeding him everything he ate. After a week, the decision was made to sedate and transport him back to Phnom Tamao in a cage the team had made from branched and banana trees. The team decided to name the elephant Chhouk, meaning lotus in Khmer.

Once back at the Center, the team’s focus turned to healing Chhouk’s leg. Each week, Chhouk was sedated and the small fragments of bone and damaged tissue were removed and the leg re-bandaged. Mr Tham, one of Phnom Tamao’s general keepers was asked if he would like to join the Wildlife Alliance team and care for Chhouk. Sleeping beside Chhouk each night, Mr Tham kept him company, as all young elephants need.

Every week, Chhouk’s leg was making remarkable progress. Taking walks in the forest with Lucky, another of Phnom Tamao’s rescued Asian elephants who had taken on the role of his big sister, was tiring him out. The team knew that something had to be done and turned their focus towards the possibility of using prosthetics.The Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics (CSPO) kindly agreed to take on the challenge of crafting Chhouk a prosthetic.Only a few weeks after taking the cast, the prosthetic was ready and Chhouk took to it like he had worn it all his life, happily walking in the forest! Chhouk has since become a bit of a star at Phnom Tamao, becoming Wildlife Alliance’s animal ambassador as Cambodia’s only elephant with a prosthetic leg.

Overtime, as Chhouk grows and the shoe gets worn out, the CSPO is required to make visits to remake it. In fact, the team at CSPO recently visited Chhouk in December to fit his newest shoe. See below photos of the incredible team at CSPO who did the casting, assembly and fitting. Wildlife Alliance would like to thank the team at CSPO for their hard work, dedication and expertise that ensures Chhouk can live the best life possible, despite his disabilities.

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