Group calls for urgent action to protect wild animals

Conservationist group said the ungulate wild animal species in the Srepok and Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuaries in northeast Cambodia’s Mondulkiri province have suffered a dramatic decline in the past decade and that urgent action is needed to reverse the drop.

According to a joint statement by Cambodia’s Environment Ministry and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on Saturday, the results from a decade-long (2010-2020) ungulate monitoring programme in both wildlife sanctuaries demonstrated that banteng, muntjac (barking deer), and wild pig populations have decreased by 72%, 52% and 18%, respectively when compared with the baseline population estimates from 2010-2011.

The monitoring efforts also documented very low encounter rates of Eld’s deer, gaur and sambar deer throughout the surveys, and suggests that only small and fragmented populations of these ungulate species still live in the landscape.

“The decline rates highlighted in the report is a wake-up call for us all, but presents us with a unique opportunity to reverse the declining trends, ” the ministry’s secretary of state Neth Pheaktra said.

He added that the decline could have been worse if without the help of law enforcement, forest rangers, community patrolling teams, provincial authorities and the WWF.

He also called on all people to stop consuming wild meat and all other wildlife products.

Poaching and snaring fuelled by the illegal wildlife trade are the primary cause of the severe depletion of ungulate species in Cambodia’s Srepok and Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuaries, the statement read.

“Snares are a principal threat to the ungulate species in the landscape and also a major contributor towards the rapid diminishing of the Indochinese leopard who prey on those ungulates along with other predators in the area, ” said Milou Groenenberg, WWF’s biodiversity research and monitoring manager.

Although the situation is critical, there is still hope to save these wild animal species from extinction.

“It is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level to take immediate collective conservation actions, ” Seng Teak, WWF country director, said. — Xinhua

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