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Jun 27, 2019

Our next release will be otter-ly exciting

Exciting news! Photo by Joshua Prieto
Exciting news! Photo by Joshua Prieto

Our efforts to restore wildlife back into the forests surrounding the Angkor Temples are progressing smoothly.

Muntjac Deer (Muntiacus vaginalis) – Least Concern

The muntjac we released in September are still around and come individually to take some of the food we put down for them most nights. What they leave behind is eaten by the limited wild animals that still survive in the forest. Providing food for animals post release, not only eases their transition into the wild but also allows us to continue monitoring the animals and ensure their safety and health.

Pileated Gibbons (Hylobates pileatus) - Endangered

Baray, Saranick, and their youngsters, Ping-Peeung (Web spider) and Chung-ruth (Cricket), are doing very well. They have adapted to the treetops better than we could have hoped and although they are not afraid of people they are becoming less inclined to interact and we hope that in time they will become more remote.

Bayon, Tevy and their two youngsters, Aping (Tarantula) and Kandop (Grasshopper), are also fine. There seemed to be a small problem developing between mother and father as Tevy was clearly a little scared of Bayon at feeding time and appeared reluctant to feed when he was close by. However, our staff hoisted a second feed basket into the trees which seems to have helped restore harmony to the relationship at meal times.

Borey and Pompoi, our third pair of gibbons we are rehabilitating at the Takao Gate (around two kilometers from Bayon and Tevy) have settled well. They are clearly mistrustful of people and the female, Pompoi, hides away in her blue sleeping barrel whenever we approach – a good sign for the future.

Silvered Langurs (Trachypithecus germaini) - Endangered

We seldom get reports about the 14 silvered langurs we translocated from an island off the coast to Angkor, but these are wild arboreal animals and their their habits along with the improved security that is now being employed in Angkor ensures their safety.

Smooth Coated Otters (Lutrogale perspicillata) - Vulnerable

Nowadays, there seems to be more interest in our work to restore wildlife to the Angkor forest from Apsara, the authorities we work with in Siem Reap. Following their request for us to submit a list of animals we felt could survive here, they asked us to bring otters to Angkor to prepare for release. In order to acclimatize the otters to their new home in the forest, we will customize the old muntjac rehabilitation enclosure to make it otter proof. This involves enlarging the existing pool and placing tin around the top of the enclosure fencing to stop them from climbing out. The next step is to relocate a family of otters from Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center to the enclosure. Releasing otters, which can be nomadic, into Angkor is a brave step and whether is turns out to be a good idea only time will tell. We have been given the opportunity to give these animals a life outside of a cage, which we will take and we – and the otters – will learn from the experience.

Photo by Joshua Prieto
Photo by Joshua Prieto
Photo by Joshua Prieto
Photo by Joshua Prieto
May 10, 2019

Phnom Penh Ivory Shop Owner Arrested

Last month, with information from an informant, the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team (Cambodia’s multi-agency wildlife law enforcement unit which is run with technical and financial support from Wildlife Alliance) investigated an ivory carving shop in Phnom Penh. The WRRT, accompanied by local police, local Forestry Administration officials, and the Deputy Prosecutor of Phnom Penh Court, raided the suspects home and found 8 kg (17.6 lbs) of ivory, 5.7 kg (12.6 lbs) of wild pig tusks, one wild pig skull, 3 red muntjac deer skulls, and one Eld’s deer antler. The WRRT arrested the offender and brought him to the Phnom Penh Forestry Administration cantonment where a court case was filed against him. He has been released until the court issues a verdict.

The presence of ivory carving shops in Cambodia has been on the rise in recent years. While there is a small demand for ivory from Cambodians, the increase in demand is mainly fueled by foreign consumers, particularly Chinese nationals [source]. Since 2016 there has been an explosion of Chinese investment in Cambodia, which has resulted in a massive upsurge in Chinese tourist in the country, the primary target market for ivory shops in Cambodia. The Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team is working to crack down on and close ivory shops throughout Cambodia.

May 9, 2019

Bear necessities - an update on cared for and released bears in the Cardamom Rainforest

Micah and his keeper on a walk through the forest
Micah and his keeper on a walk through the forest

Bears have occupied a lot of our rime lately. We had been keeping young sun bear Micah, brought to us from Siem Pang in Stung Treng Province in July 2018, inside our bear house as we felt it was unwise to release him into the large 1-hectare fenced area of forest, currently holding female Soheap and male Tela. We walk Micah twice each day, he has grown and is now in great condition. We usually take him through the forest to the nearby stream which he enjoys playing in.

On January 28th we radio collared Tela in preparation for his release. We allowed him to get used to the contraption around his neck and opened the enclosure door on February 23rd. Tela made his exit two days later on February 25th. WRS staff hand track him every day and we also receive satellite data on his whereabouts. Tela seems fine so far and we believe that once the rains return and there are more water sources elsewhere, he will travel further away from his release site. Although it may be the presence of wild sun bears that are restricting his range.

Following Tela’s release, Micah was integrated with female sun bear, Soheap. Initially he was very wary of her and to ensure his safety we shut him back inside the bear house each night. However, the two are now comfortable with each other, although Soheap, who is an extremely sweet-natured lady, seems more interested in Micah than he is of her!

Micah enjoys practicing his climbing skills
Micah enjoys practicing his climbing skills

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