Conducted by experts from Kyoto University of Japan and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), a camera trap study has recorded the presence of 30 large mammal species in Chhep Wildlife Sanctuary (CWS) in the Northern Plains of Cambodia.
The biodiversity captured in the images demonstrates the extent to which CWS, a protected area containing part of the largest contiguous tract of deciduous dipterocarp forest (DDF) in the Northern Plains, is critical to the conservation of these mammals.
“The results confirm the continued occurrence of large mammals such as Eld’s deer, banteng, elephants and jungle cats in the CWS,” said Ai Suzuki, of Kyoto University and lead author of the study. “Importantly, the globally Endangered large-spotted civet was the fourth most photographed species in CWS.”
DDF are unique and biodiverse forests marked by a prominent dry season, an open canopy and ample grasslands. Once common in the mainland of Southeast Asia, they provide excellent habitat and grazing opportunities for mammals. A robust herbivore population in turn supports predator communities.
“The study highlights the global significance of CWS (formerly Preah Vihear Protected Forest) for conservation of mammal assemblages in a lowland DDF-dominated landscape, a forest-type under-represented as protected area in mainland Southeast Asia,” Ai added.
While DDF are home to many rare species and provide a host of ecosystem services, they never the less face many threats including illegal logging, forest clearing, and habitat conversion.
“WCS Cambodia program has been working with both the Ministry of Environment and Forestry Administration in the Northern Plains landscape, Preah Vihear province since 1999 to successfully improve wildlife protection and increase benefits to local communities,” said Alistair Mould, WCS’s Technical Advisor to Northern Plains of Cambodia.
“This unique area of forest represents both a vital habitat for globally endangered wildlife and a natural wildlife corridor which together contribute to a critical part of the upper watershed catchment for the Stung Sen River. Law enforcement by wildlife sanctuary rangers as well as support from local communities is ongoing to meet current challenges, such as illegal logging, forest clearance and poaching. WCS, in collaboration with Ministry of Environment, is committed to protecting the Northern Plains of Cambodia for biodiversity conservation and livelihood improvement,” he added.
Species recorded in the study included: Critically Endangered Sunda pangolins (Manis javanica), Endangered Asian elephants (Elephas maximus), Indochinese silvered langurs (Trachypithecus germaini), Eld’s deer (Rucervus eldii), banteng (Bos javanicus),Endangered large-spotted civets (Viverra megaspila) dhole (Cuon alpinus) Vulnerable clouded leopards (Neofelis nebulosa), gaur (Bos gaurus), Asiatic black bears (Ursus thibetanus), sun bears (Helarctos malayanus), and Northern pig-tailed macaques (Macaca leonina).
The study titled “Camera trapping of large mammals in Chhep Wildlife Sanctuary, northern Cambodia,” appears in the June 2017 edition of the Cambodian Journal of Natural History. Authors include: Suzuki Ai and Iwata Akihisa of Kyoto University, Japan; and Thong Sokha and Tan Setha of WCS.
This work was supported by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the European Union, Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies, US Fish and Wildlife Service, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and USAID.