This week our Cambodia Forest team had close encounters with two species that have not previously been sighted in the area. The first was one of the worlds most endangered primates the pileated gibbon (Hylobates pileatus). The second was a binturong (Artictis binturong), which is a species of civet. Both species are native to south East Asia and inhabit tropical forests ranging throughout Indo-China. Our Cambodia forest team has been working in the Kulem Promtep region for just over 1 year since relocation, and primate and large mammal surveys have been an integral part of project work in the field.
Photo Courtesy of jinterwas
Cambodia is home to ten species of primate, of which, nine are globally threatened including the pileated gibbon. Last phase the team recorded 39 incidents of gibbon vocal calls, however no sightings were reported. Gibbons are recognised by their distinctive territorial calls, which is evident within the area and results suggest there are at least three families inhabiting the 5 km range of forest surrounding the camp. This week’s pileated gibbon sighting further supports the presence of gibbon populations within the area, and provides exciting potential for future research into this endangered species. Pileated gibbons are experiencing a population decline as a result of increased hunting, and therefore any research on these populations will be essential for the future protection of individuals in Cambodia.
The binturong is listed as vulnerable on the ICUN red list of threatened species due to a population decline of over 30% in the last 30 years. The main threats to the binturong are habitat loss, degradation and wildlife trade. Frontier Cambodia has previously recorded the presence of other civet species, including the Common palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphrodites). However, this is the first time a vulnerable civet species has been spotted in the Kulen-Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary by Frontiers staff and volunteers.
With a long history of poverty and social political issues Cambodia has been relatively untouched in terms of conservation efforts and wildlife legislation. War and forest depletion has resulted in detrimental impacts on forest ecosystems, and as a consequence much of Cambodia’s wildlife is at high risk. The team will continue large mammal and gibbon transect surveys throughout the area, and have high hopes for further sightings in the near future.
More news on Frontier Cambodia and all of Frontiers conservation research projects can be found on both the Frontier and SEE Conservation Website.
By Laura Burton and Julia Crabbe