Rare gibbon species face threat

|     Khouth Sophak Chakrya     |

PHNOM PENH (The Phnom Penh Post/ANN) – While hunting in the Kingdom’s wildlife sanctuaries has abated, the use of traps have become widespread. That, coupled with deforestation, has caused grave concerns among conservationists who fear the extinction of the endangered yellow-cheeked crested gibbons.

The rare gibbon species – native to Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia – live in tropical forests and swing from tree to tree foraging for fruits. In 1995, they were found living in the southern part of Laos and Vietnam and did not have a large presence in Cambodia.

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Country Director Ken Serey Rotha said around 1,000 yellow-cheeked crested gibbons were found in the Keo Seima and Phnom Prich wildlife sanctuaries in Mondulkiri province.

He said the number of yellow-cheeked crested gibbons has not increased in recent years, prompting WCS to work in partnership with a local community on an eco-tourism project aimed at conserving the species.

“Keo Seima and Phnom Prich are the last wildlife sanctuaries that serve as habitats for the species. All parties need to participate and conserve the endangered species by eliminating hunting, consumption and trafficking so that they can continue to exist for our next generations to see,” he said.

He said WCS is working with the Andong Kraloeng eco-tourism community on a project aimed at raising awareness among the general public.

“The project, known as Jahoo Gibbon based in O’rang district’s Sen Monorom commune, offers visitors a first-hand experience and insight into the gibbons and other rare species in the Keo Seima and Phnom Prich wildlife sanctuaries.”

Serey Rotha holds out high hopes that the project will discourage people from hunting, trapping, trafficking and eating wild animals, and instead help contribute to the concerted conservation efforts.

A yellow-cheeked crested gibbon. – THE PHNOM PENH POST