Sunday, June 21, 2009

WWF uses Cameras and Dogs to Search for Tigers in Cambodia

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The World Wide Fund for Nature also known as World Wildlife Fund (WWF) will set up more camera traps and use tracker dogs to search for tigers in Mondulkiri province. This will help assess the size of the population and prevent its slaughter by traders in exotic medicines. Tep Asnarith, WWF Senior Communication Officer, said his organization plans to introduce further camera traps and extend the use of trained dogs throughout Mondulkiri province.

Asnarith said that the objective of the camera traps was to record the tigers and other endangered wild animals living in the Eastern Plains Landscape of Mondulkiri province.

“Camera traps and trained dogs are useful tools in researching and monitoring endangered wild animals in Cambodia. They can help us get our work done successfully,” he told The Southeast Asia Weekly during an interview on June 19.

Since November 2008, WWF has set up 200 camera traps in Mondulkiri province, said Asnarith, adding that over the next few months, the organization will use two trained dogs imported from the U.S. to begin scouring the undergrowth and sniffing for tigers’ scent.

The tiger population is estimated to be between 10 to 25 animals in the Eastern Plains Landscape of Mondulkiri, according to the latest camera trap work on tigers conducted in 2007.

Asnarith noted that his organization has been operating in Cambodia since 2002. The Organization works in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Ministry of Environment. Their aim is to conserve forests, species, freshwater lakes and overall biodiversity in Mondulkiri, Kratie and Steung Treng provinces.

To preserve the tigers as well as other endangered animals in Cambodia, Asnarith said that WWF will continue to conduct law enforcement and regular patrol activities throughout the landscapes. Infrastructure including ranger posts and upgraded roads are also part of the eastern plains landscape management plan.

He added that the WWF project team would continue to conduct wildlife research to understand their presence and movements across the dry forests landscapes in Cambodia.

Chum Vibol, a Community Officer living in a protected area of Phnom Prech in Modullkiri province, said that according to his notes, in the 1970s, there were about 5,000 tigers living in Mondulkiri province.

Vibol said that since then, civil war, deforestation and illegal hunting activities have all but destroyed populations of endangered animals. However, due to work carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Ministry of Environment and other international organizations, the number of tigers, elephants and other endangered wild animals have started to rise.
“I am happy to see the tigers, elephants and other endangered animals and birds re-appearing and thriving in Modulkiri province. I hope that the presence of these wild animals will attract tourists to visit my community; they will bring income for my people, too,” he told the Southeast Asia Weekly during a telephone interview

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