Project #4308

Help Care for Rescued Animals in Cambodia

by Wildlife Alliance
Baby Pileated Gibbon and Mom
Baby Pileated Gibbon and Mom

This month we welcomed a new baby Pileated gibbon to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center (PTWRC). He joins several other babies born as part of the gibbon rehabilitation program, which works to rebuild the gibbon population in the wild. Known for the impressive tree swinging and complex vocalizations, gibbons are spectacular primates to observe in the wild. However, due to extensive hunting and habitat loss these magnificent creatures have been listed as Endangered by the IUCN.

Owing to their high demand in the wildlife trade, the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team (WRRT) often rescues gibbons from wildlife poachers that sell them as pets or tourist attractions in bars and hotels. We also receive many donations of gibbons that have been torn away from their mothers as infants and are kept as pets until owners realize they cannot control these wild animals. In attempts to change the animal’s natural behavior, these gibbons are often mistreated and confined to small areas. Caretakers at the PTWRC work hard to rehabilitate the animals, and house them in spacious enclosures to facilitate natural behavior.  These large, natural enclosures enable the process of de-humanization in order to make them suitable for reintroduction into the wild. This program has been largely successful in rehabilitating the gibbons, unfortunately finding suitable habitats for their release has proved to be more challenging. Gibbons by nature are highly territorial, with a home range of about 75 acres. They mate for life and live in small families composed of only the mated pair and a few of their offspring. Due to the widespread habitat destruction and competing gibbon families in available protected land, finding suitable release location has been difficult.  

Through outreach and education Wildlife Alliance is working to raise awareness about the dangers of keeping primates as pets and continued habitat destruction. Help us continue to rescue and care for these graceful primates, as well as provide them with the adequate space and rehabilitation they require. 


On the evening of September 22nd, Wildlife Alliance’s Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team (WRRT) received information that a young gaur had been snared in the forest near the small village of Ro Leark in the Chloung District in Kratie province, located northeast of Phnom Penh.  The animal’s mother was hovering close by, protecting her child, but making rescue dangerous and difficult.  Gaurs are the largest species of wild cattle, incredibly strong with large horns on their head, and have been known to be quite bold.  However, with few options of how to handle the situation, two members of the WRRT – along with Wildlife Alliance Wildlife Programs Director Nick Marx – headed off towards Kratie first thing the next morning.

Driving fast, the three reached Kratie in less than four hours – a seemingly impossible task.  They then traveled through miles of plantations and cleared forest until they arrived in Ro Leark.  From there they continued by ox cart for 45 minutes until reaching the location of the young, snared gaur.  Forestry Administration rangers had slept nearby the night before to protect the gaur, a 4 or 5 year old female.  By that point, the mother had abandoned her.  The gaur was exhausted but lucky, as the snare had not tightened completely around her leg.  She was lying down, with a few small injuries caused by her struggle to escape, but the snared limbed was uninjured and she needed little medical care.  After removing the snare from her leg and helping her to sit up, Nick offered her water and she drank, slowly regaining her strength.  Over the course of several hours, Nick continued to provide water, grass and cassava leaves.  She ate very little, but began to forage on the forest leaves around her.  She began to be troubled by the prolonged human presence and seeing as she had regained her strength and mobility, the team felt comfortable leaving her there and returned the village.

Upon return to Ro Leark, guards were found who were willing to monitor the gaur in the forest overnight and Forestry Administration officials in the village also agreed to ensure the animal’s continued safety.  The team from Wildlife Alliance stayed in the village overnight in case there were any further issues.  By the next morning, the team received information that the gaur had disappeared into the forest and so with a successful rescue completed, the team returned to Phnom Penh.

Rescue Team
Rescue Team

Sakor, a 16 year old male elephant, installed himself along Koh Kong province’s main thoroughfare, Road 48, early this year causing snarls in traffic, destroying telephone poles, and infiltrating villages and plantations.  For several months plantation workers and villagers have taunted him and angry truck drivers have attempted to push him off the road.  One such incident in May resulted in a wound to his front leg and as recently as August 25, his presence on the road caused two cars to collide.  As the situation escalated in the spring and summer, officials worried that the elephant would be killed or people would be harmed or both.  At the end of May, the provincial governor of Koh Kong requested that the Forestry Administration, with the assistance of Wildlife Alliance, remove Sakor for his safety and the safety of the people living in the area.

After two failed rescue attempts in July and early August, information arrived on Saturday, August 25th that Sakor was once again causing problems on the road.  The patrol unit from Stung Proat Station – the station that has been monitoring the situation since January – was immediately dispatched to the site, where they secured an area around the elephant and fed him, keeping him calm until the rescue team could arrive.

Shortly thereafter, the rescue team, led by Forestry Administration veterinarian Nhim Thy and Wildlife Programs Director Nick Marx, arrived on scene and began the rescue process.  However, after successfully tranquilizing Sakor, he ran off into the forest before the anesthetic could take effect.  After tracking him down, it was determined that he was too far from the road for the truck and transport crate to reach him.  They were going to need more equipment.

First, a road needed to be created through the forest with a bulldozer.  After a bulldozer was found and the road smoothed, the path was still not passable as the ground was extremely wet, making it too muddy and treacherous for the truck to get through.  So the team secured an excavator that could lift the transport crate into the forest where Sakor could get inside, and then lift elephant and crate together back to the main road.  After four hours of slow, careful driving, the excavator emerged from the forest with the elephant in the crate.

On August 27th, the crate was lifted on to a truck and the team set off for Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center, which is to be Sakor’s new home.  He joins 5 other rescued Asian elephants who reside there, including Chhouk, the elephant with a prosthetic foot, whose previous rescue enclosure Sakor has now moved into.  After three long days and several false starts, Sakor is now safe and thriving at Phnom Tamao under the care of Wildlife Alliance’s animal husbandry specialists and veterinarians, all of whom have been providing full time care to the rescued elephants at Phnom Tamao since 2003.

But the process does not end here.  Sakor will need food, medicine, treatment and care for the long term and he will eventually need an enclosure of his own that suits his specific needs.  To help Wildlife Alliance care for Sakor, make a donation today.  Please visit our donation page and choose Care for Rescued Wildlife from the dropdown menu.


Wildlife Alliance is pleased to announce the launch of our first iPhone app, Wildlife Watch Cambodia in conjunction with our partners: Trigger LLC, Jeff Corwin Connect, and TRAFFIC

Traveling to Cambodia?  Want to help stop illegal wildlife trafficking?  Interested in learning more about Southeast Asia’s incredible flora and fauna?  Download the Wildlife Watch app today!  

Wildlife Watch Cambodia provides people the opportunity to learn more about Southeast Asia’s heavily traded animal species through photos, background information, and English and local market names to help identify wildlife for sale.  Users can watch informational videos with Jeff Corwin and add animal pictures to the database.  It allows users to view and add to an interactive map of wildlife trafficking hotspots throughout the country, and also gives users the opportunity to join in the fight to stop the illegal wildlife trade through incident reports that are sent directly to our Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team.  The team can then take immediate action to stop traffickers and sellers of wildlife and wildlife parts.  Since 2001, Wildlife Alliance has been working tirelessly to end wildlife trafficking in Southeast Asia.  Help us win the fight.  Download the app today!

Visit the iTunes store to download.

Wildlife Alliance would like to express our extreme gratitude to Trigger LLC, Jeff Corwin Connect, and TRAFFIC for developing this much needed app.


Chhouk with Nick Marx
Chhouk with Nick Marx

Our Care for Rescued Wildlife team does an incredible job of caring for the animals Wildlife Alliance rescues from the illegal wildlife trade – the most vulnerable of which are the babies, especially those that have lost their mothers or been separated from their family groups.  So far, our track record in nurturing baby animals is good – but it can be better.  Animals like Chhouk – who was just a baby and missing a leg when we found him in the forest – can survive and even thrive under the expert care of our team.  But the facilities we currently have are sorely lacking when one considers the level of care that is necessary to ensure the survival of these most defenseless victims of wildlife trafficking.  Watch the video below to see what Wildlife Alliance does to help these and all the animals at Phnom Tamao against great odds.



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Organization Information

Wildlife Alliance

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

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