At least 84 globally endangered Indian hog deer (Axis porcinus) roam about the grassland habitats of the Prek Prasob Wildlife Sanctuary, within the Mekong Flooded Forest (MFF) Landscape in Kratie province, a first-ever population survey found, raising hopes for conservation in Cambodia and the world.
“The survey result showed the presence of multiple fawns, indicating a reproduction of the rare spices is taking place in its natural habitats,” according to the surveyor, World Wildlife Fund Cambodia Programme (WWF-Cambodia).
“In Cambodia, the species was once considered extinct until its rediscovery in 2006 in Kratie, with their presence confirmed by camera-trapping,” the NGO said in a June 16 statement.
“It is the first ever hog deer population survey in Cambodia, 16 years after its rediscovery, supporting the conservation of this rare species in the world,” the statement quoted Eam Sam Un, biodiversity research and monitoring manager in MFF, as saying.
The statement noted that the study was conducted in collaboration with the Kratie provincial Department of Environment and Biodiversity Inventory for Conservation (BINCO), with the participation of local authorities and community members.
Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said in the statement that his ministry was “delighted and proud that the natural environment in Cambodia provides a safe haven for the survival of globally significant species such as the hog deer, whose presence and reproduction have been confirmed in Prek Prasob Wildlife Sanctuary.
“Peace and political stability in the country have created a favourable environment for the ministry, communities, local authorities and all development partners to work together to manage and conserve the natural resources, and as the result forests and wildlife are protected, while the number of some wildlife species have increased.
“It is critical that we continue strengthening our cooperation for protecting and conserving the biodiversity in our protected areas in support of building better local economies especially through the development of ecotourism and for the benefit of ecosystems in Cambodia and the world,” he said.
WWF-Cambodia said the Indian hog deer has been spotted in the wild in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand, and noted that scientists have suggested that the small deer may be extirpated, or locally-extinct, in China, Laos and Vietnam.
Eng Sokhorn, a member of the Chroy Banteay community patrolling team in Prek Prasob Wildlife Sanctuary, said in the statement that she is “encouraged to participate in the forest conservation, especially through patrolling, to protect wildlife from snares, ensuring wildlife survival and protecting our precious natural resources for the next generation”.
WWF-Cambodia country director Seng Teak said: “The current findings not only place Cambodia's reputation on the global stage, but highlights the global importance of the Mekong landscape as critical habitats for both terrestrial and aquatic wildlife survival.
"WWF congratulates and appreciates the research effort by the team, and the law enforcement efforts by rangers, with the participation of local authorities, and all community members to safeguard the wildlife habitats for the benefit of people and nature,” he added, according to the statement.
Pheaktra added that the environment ministry “encourages all people living around the protected areas to participate in natural resources and biodiversity conservation, stop poaching and snaring, cease selling and buying wildlife and bushmeat consumption”.
Instead, he suggested locals take part “in conserving rare wild animals such as the hog deer for the benefit of future generations and enhancing local livelihood development”.
For reference, Prek Prasob Wildlife Sanctuary covers 12,770ha across Kratie’s Sambor and Prek Prasab districts, while MFF spans 2.7 million hectares in Kampong Thom, Kratie, Stung Treng and Preah Vihear provinces, according to the World Wildlife Fund.