Establishment of a Long-Term Wildlife Monitoring Programme
Asia/Pacific > Southeast Asia > Cambodia (Kampuchea)
Assessments have been undertaken of the conservation threats and opportunities in Cambodia’s forests. This has provided the relevant government agencies with a blueprint to concentrate available resources on areas with the greatest potential to conserve globally significant wildlife populations.
This focus is essential in Cambodia where vast expanses of intact habitat cannot realistically be managed in their entirety. With this in mind, the project proposes to concentrate activities in 2 principal sites: Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary (PPWS) and the Eastern Mondulkiri Biodiversity and Genetic Conservation Area (BGCA).
Eastern Cambodia, particularly Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary (PPWS) and the Eastern Mondulkiri Biodiversity and Genetic Conservation Area (BGCA), are increasingly viewed as some of the most important areas for biodiversity conservation remaining in Southeast Asia.
PPWS, with an area of 2,250 km2, covers much of the central-western lowland area of Mondulkiri province. The area also harbours one of the densest concentrations of large ungulates anywhere in mainland Southeast Asia (Timmins & Au 2001). The sanctuary encompasses large expanses of remote lowland mosaic forests with a considerable deciduous component. Although protection has apparently stemmed habitat loss in many areas, wildlife exploitation is still a significant problem. Phnom Prich and adjacent Lomphat Wildlife Sancturary together currently cover probably the most extensive area of the lowland mosaic forest in protected areas in Cambodia, and probably Southeast Asia.
Surveys within these areas (Timmins & Au 2001) have identified areas that are considered of the highest priority for the conservation of threatened flagship species such as Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) and Indochinese tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti). The flagship species focus is especially important in a country where general biodiversity conservation awareness is relatively recent, but where these 2 species are widely associated with national identity.
Initial surveys to determine the presence of these and other species are only a part of the overall conservation landscape. The other major component, and primary focus of this project, consists of creating permanent monitoring transects that will allow for the assessment of wildlife population trends over time. Monitoring (i.e. the identification and assessment of threats and trends in a manner that allows managers to respond effectively) is a central component of good conservation management (Redford & Richter 1999).
These transects can be surveyed at pre-determined intervals by trained protected area field staff. As it is impossible to monitor all species of conservation importance, those selected are likely to be more affected by specific threats (e.g. hunting, forest clearance) than others. The selected key species, all of which face specific threats and are of global or regional conservation significance, include: Asian elephant, banteng, gaur, wild water buffalo, Eld's deer, sambar, tiger, leopard, dhole, Siamese crocodile, possibly kouprey and hog deer, and lesser-known species such as jungle cat, clouded leopard, marbled cat, and a number of civet species. In some areas with a higher wetland distribution, notable large waterbirds including Sarus crane, giant ibis, white-shouldered ibis, lesser and greater adjutants, green peafowl, and woolly-necked and black-necked storks will also be recorded.
Design, justify, and supervise the establishment of an appropriate long-term biological monitoring system in PPWS and adjoining areas of high conservation value.
WWF Cambodia and its conservation partners in the Ministry of Environment (MoE) and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) propose the establishment of a standardised wildlife monitoring programme within PPWS and Eastern Mondulkiri BGCA. This will include a plan, with scientific and practical justification, for monitoring key biological species, habitats, and ecological processes in and around PPWS. The plan will be developed in consultation with the WWF Cambodia Species Programme and the WWF country Directory.