Animals
 Cambodia
Project #4308

Help Care for Rescued Animals in Cambodia

by Wildlife Alliance
Chhouk showing off his new prosthesis!
Chhouk showing off his new prosthesis!

Thank you for supporting our project and ensuring animals rescued from the illegal wildlife trade are given a second chance at life! We would like to share a special update from Wildlife Programs Director, Nick Marx who manages our work at Phnom Tamao Rescue Center (PTWRC) in Cambodia.

Work never stops at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre (PTWRC). With around 1,200 animals to care for and new ones arriving on a daily basis we need to keep our eye on the ball. The health of our elephant, Lucky, at last seems to be improving following her brush with death at the beginning of the year. As expected our dear friend Dara, the male tiger who has been sick for so long finally died and Chhouk, our male elephant with a damaged front leg received a new prosthesis. We have managed to keep pretty much up to date with the necessary cage construction and we are continuing with our efforts to build small conservation education facilities around the Centre for the different species of wildlife native to Cambodia with a wild cat and dog exhibit beside the leopard enclosure.

Progress has been steady during the past three months at Phnom Tamao. There have been no unforeseen dramas, which is fortunate as our rehabilitation and release work in different parts of the country has kept us busy. There were the usual stream of arrivals – either confiscations or births – and departures that we always experience. A total of 469 animals were brought to PTWRC during the past three months. These included 81 pythons, 12 macaques, 7 slow loris, 1 black bear, 2 leopard cat kittens and 197 birds including 1 greater adjutant stork, 3 lesser adjutants, 1 spot billed pelican, 1 grey headed fish eagle and a crested serpent eagle.

There were also seven pheasants, later identified as two female Siamese firebacks and five Edward’s pheasants that arrived. The firebacks are native to Cambodia and I would like to implement a breeding program for this beautiful species in order that we can release them in some of the areas we are working. We only have male firebacks at PTWRC and genetic tests on the females to confirm their origins will be necessary first. The Edward’s pheasant comes from Vietnam and is extinct in the wild, now only surviving in one or two captive breeding facilities. I gave feathers to a colleague working with Birdlife International and these have now been sent to a specialist in Germany to identify whether the bloodlines of our birds are valuable to the breeding program. I have already built a large enclosure for these nervous birds and results from tests will decide what we finally do with them.

Seventeen babies were born including two pileated gibbons, one brush-tailed porcupine and three lion cubs. Other births during the quarter were either muntjac deer or wild pigs. Jungle fowl chicks and black-crowned night herons hatched in our aviaries. We released 255 animals. These were mostly pythons, monitor lizards, macaques or birds that had recovered from their ordeal and were strong enough to have their freedom. We released 11 muntjac, which we had previously removed from the grounds of the French Embassy, into the Phnom Tamao Protected Forest. We still see them around as they are quite familiar with people and they are well.

Release in some cases is a euphemism for escape and this is not the problem for us that it would for a western zoo. Our animals are indigenous and can survive in the forest. We put supplementary food down in their old enclosure for them for as long as it is needed and leave the door open in case the animals feel like being recaptured! Animals that were “released” in this manner include wild boar, common palm civets, a leopard cat and three jackals.

The Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics (CSPO) visited PTWRC to take a fitting of Chhouk’s damaged leg in order that they could make a new prosthesis for our young bull elephant. Chhouk is a growing lad and elephants are heavy on foot wear! They brought us the new shoe one month later. It was a perfect fit! I never miss an opportunity to extol the virtues of the kind people who work for this excellent organization that operates under the umbrella of the Cambodia Trust, without whom Chhouk would be in a sorry state by now. When I asked for assistance in 2009 other similar organizations wished us luck but refused to help. CSPO made no promises, but said they would give it a shot. They now say they see Chhouk as just another one of their patients that they must continue to care for…and the results have been incredible!

I would like to thank all the supporters that have helped us care for these special aniimals. No animal is ever turned away, and without the Centre most of them would not have survived.

Happy Holidays from all of us at Wildlife Alliance! We hope you will continue to think of us during this giving season, as well as share our work with friends and on social media!

"Released" jackals
"Released" jackals
Rescued slow loris is now in rehabilitation
Rescued slow loris is now in rehabilitation
Siamese Fireback
Siamese Fireback
Thank you!!
Thank you!!
Iggy, the rescued yellow-cheeked gibbon
Iggy, the rescued yellow-cheeked gibbon

This yellow-cheeked gibbon baby was rescued by the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team on March 23 and brought to his new home at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center. Too young to be left alone, he was provided with round-the-clock care at the animal nursery. This is only the third yellow-cheeked gibbon to be rescued by the team, and the species is listed as Endangered by the IUCN. Found in the eastern region of Cambodia, yellow-cheeked gibbons are similar in habits and behavior to pileated gibbons, however their dueting songs differ. They are also more social animals and live in groups of 3-5 individuals. Yellow-cheeked gibbons sleep sitting up, and the family sleeps together in preferred sleeping trees. The tight-knit family unit participates in social grooming, which is thought to reinforce the bonds between family members

Iggy, as he's been dubbed, is doing really well in the Nursery, and his playful nature has captivated the hearts of staff and our Wildlife Tour guests. He arrived thin and weak and we felt he would not survive. However, the Nursery staff caring for all the babies at the Center has done a great job under the watchful eye of head keeper, Try Sitheng. The little one is slowly becoming more independent and each day he gets an opportunity to practice his brachiating skills in a small tree next to the Nursery building. 

We would like to thank you for your continued support, your gifts make it possible for us to provide the best possible care for rescued animals like Iggy. We hope you'll make your gift go further this Bonus Day! On September 16th, donations of up to $1,000 made through GlobalGiving will be matched at 30% while funds last - hurry because funds run out quickly! With your help, we can care for all the animals that arrive and desperately need our help!

When he first arrived, he was very weak and thin.
When he first arrived, he was very weak and thin.
Thanks to our dedicated staff, he is much better!
Thanks to our dedicated staff, he is much better!
Practicing his climbing skills!
Practicing his climbing skills!
Endangered baby fishing cat born at the Center
Endangered baby fishing cat born at the Center

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!

Endangered yellow-cheeked gibbon baby
Endangered yellow-cheeked gibbon baby
Slow lorises rescued from a market
Slow lorises rescued from a market
Beloved Cataracts, always an attentive mother
Beloved Cataracts, always an attentive mother
Curious little fishing cat kitten
Curious little fishing cat kitten
Chhouk and his new prosthetic
Chhouk and his new prosthetic

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.

The Author with a Rescued Baby Macaque
The Author with a Rescued Baby Macaque
Watching the Photo Op for the donation made
Watching the Photo Op for the donation made
Students on a Kouprey Express Wildlife Field Trip
Students on a Kouprey Express Wildlife Field Trip
Lucky and Sitheng - closely bonded
Lucky and Sitheng - closely bonded

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!

Lucky on her daily walk as Elephant Ambassador
Lucky on her daily walk as Elephant Ambassador
Lucky and Sitheng - When she first arrived
Lucky and Sitheng - When she first arrived
Inspiring young Cambodians to protect wildlife
Inspiring young Cambodians to protect wildlife
Now 15 yrs old, she has captured all of our hearts
Now 15 yrs old, she has captured all of our hearts

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Organization Information

Wildlife Alliance

Location: New York, NY - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.wildlifealliance.org
Project Leader:
Chloe Lala-Katz
Communications and Finance Field Liaison
New York, NY United States