The wildlife includes both new and endangered species, as well as animals and plants previously unseen in the area, says Fauna and Flora International (FFI), the conservation group which lead the expedition. The results of the group’s work in early 2000 in the Cardamom Mountains and Mount Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary were unveiled on 26 September at the Royal Geographical Society in London, UK.

Highlights of the research findings include the discovery of a number of species new to science, such as a species of wolf snake, and more reports of the elusive ‘Khting vor’, a large mammal related to goats or cattle. Species found which have not previously been associated with Cambodia include the fishing cat, the Sikkim mouse, the impressed tortoise, the woolly horseshoe bat, and 19 bird species.

Researchers also found internationally important numbers of endangered species, including the Indo-China tiger, Asian elephant, Asian wild dog, and pileated gibbon. The scientists also discovered a large population of the critically endangered Siamese crocodile, previously thought to be extinct in the wild.

“The survey has produced powerful evidence of the outstanding national, regional and global importance of the Cardamom Mountains for wildlife conservation,” said Dr Jenny Daltry, Conservation Biologist and Team Leader from FFI. “It represents one of the last wild places with an almost wholly intact Asian fauna and flora. With its high biodiversity, presence of globally threatened species and the high numbers of endemic species it should be regarded as an international priority for the conservation of its wildlife.”

The researchers found that the Cardamom Mountains contain a disproportionately high percentage of the country’s biodiversity. Covering only 6% of Cambodia’s land area, the mountain range supports at least 50% of its birds, reptiles and amphibians, and most of the country’s large mammals.

“As the Cardamoms become more accessible, so the danger to their animals and plants increases,” said Daltry. “Hunting for overseas trade in exotic species, loss of habitat through both legal and illegal logging and slash-and-burn cultivation, road construction and presence of landmines leaves the future of the Cardamom’s plants and animals very uncertain.”

FFI is calling for the preservation of Cambodia’s wildlife through measures such as investment in personnel to protect wild areas, a review of the country’s wildlife and land protection laws, better management of existing conservation areas, and international aid for social and economic projects which incorporate wildlife protection.

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