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Cambodia establishes a new protected area to save endangered wildlife

La Cambogia ha istituito una nuova area protetta di 65mila ettari. La zona è considerata un hotspot importante per molti animali minacciati come l’ibis gigante e il leopardo nebuoloso.

Northern Cambodian forests are home to extremely rare and threatened species. Among them are the giant ibis (Thaumatibis gigantea), Cambodia’s icon animal with less than 400 individuals surviving in the wild; the clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), mysterious feline with only 10,000 individuals left; and the banteng (Bos javanicus), a species of wild cattle with less than 5,000 individuals left in the wild globally.

Leopardo nebuloso
The clouded lepard is a wild feline living in tropical forests in South and South-East Asia. It is threatened.

A natural reserve for threatened wildlife

In order to protect such biodiversity richness, Cambodia established a new protected area in the north of the country. The reserve extends for about 65,000 hectares of forest and has been granted by a ministerial decree on 9 May. Earlier in 2014, a wide stretch of the Siem Pang forest was granted protection. Thus, the protected areas now amount to over 130,000 hectares.

Cucciolo di banteng
Banteng populations significatly dropped due to hunting and habitat loss

BirdLife International, the NGO that collaborated with the Ministry for the Environment and Agriculture for the establishment of the protected area, defined the area as a “perfect candidate for World Heritage Site nomination”. The Siem Pang forest is home to the rare white-shouldered ibis (Pseudibis davisoni), one tenth of the global population of giant ibis, and numerous species of vulture including the slender-billed vulture (Gyps Tenuirostris).

“Without protection, safeguarding this area and its biodiversity from environmental degradation will be impossible,” said Jonathan Charles Eames, consultant for BirdLife Cambodia.

Esemplare maschio adulto di gaur
The gaur is a wild bovine living in India, Indochina and Myanmar and is listed as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN

Logging is putting Cambodia’s forests at risk

Industrial-scale logging is one of the main threats to Cambodian forests and their wildlife. “Deforestation has had disastrous impacts on the environment,” said 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize winner Leng Ouch. Ouch dedicated his life to safeguarding forests in Cambodia, working under protection to document illegal logging and denounce the corruption that bonds government and multinationals. “How can the government oversee protected areas when sawmills and furniture production businesses are operating around the country and timber is still being cut and transported openly?”

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