The land of heroes
Our heroes
Our land
Cambodia Kingdom

Saturday, June 13, 2009

US dogs to sniff out Cambodian tigers

Mereuch, Cambodia: Researchers will monitor Cambodia’s remaining tigers using almost 200 camera traps and two specially trained dogs – capable of tracking the tigers over 150 square kilometers by following the animal’s droppings.

The camera traps and dogs ultimately will help conservationists to better protect tigers in the Mondulkiri Protected Forest in Eastern Cambodia, one of Southeast Asia’s largest remaining tropical dry forests.
WWF has set up more than 165 camera traps in the area, and in a few months two US-trained dogs, will begin scouring the undergrowth and sniffing for tiger scent.

The two dogs will be re-trained to locate the scat of tiger and other carnivores. Using dogs to sniff out the scats from large carnivores has been widely used in other parts of the world with great success, such as tiger monitoring projects in the Russian Far East.

“We know tigers are there. With more concentrated monitoring we have a better chance of spotting them – and this will enable us to put more protective measures in play,” said Nicholas Cox, WWF’s Dry Forests Ecoregion Leader.

Despite many years of poaching, there now are signs that the dry forest is recovering as a habitat for tigers. Leopards now are relatively common and other wildlife returning to the area include wild banteng, Asian jackal, Eld’s deer and primates such as silvered langur. In addition Vultures, Great Hornbills and Giant Ibis have now been frequently spotted in the forest.

The tiger population is estimated to be between 10 and 25 animals in the Eastern Plains Landscape. Camera traps have been used in some parts of the Protected Forest previously, but they will now be concentrated to a core area frequented by tigers. A tiger was last photographed in the area in 2007, and scats (droppings) have been found more recently in the area.

“It’s now or never, we must act if the trend of increasing tiger prey species is to be made permanent,” said Seng Teak, WWF Cambodia Country Director. “Stronger protection measures and a rigorous management plan are being implemented by the local government in Mondulkiri and WWF. When prey returns to the area the tiger population will have a chance to bounce back in a few years”, says.

WWF has been involved in conservation work in the Eastern Plains since early 2001. That commitment was increased a few years ago to cover an area spanning more than 20,000 square kilometers.

Strict protection measures have been enforced in the Mondulkiri Protected Forest and the Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary. In core protection zones, villagers are not allowed to hunt or cut timber, and
more than 70 trained rangers patrol the protected areas.

Lean Kha, a 48-year-old ranger working for WWF, was a poacher in the 70s.

“As a 13-year-old boy I was forced by the Khmer Rouge to go into the forest and kill wild animals,” Kha said. “I quickly learned to shoot and lay snares. During a period of 5-6 years I shot 16 elephants, 14 leopards and two tigers. At the time, I was ignorant and did not think of the consequences when I shot those tigers.”

“Today I’m really proud to work for WWF, and to use my skills to combat wildlife crime so that there will still be tigers and other wildlife in the forest when my children grow up,” he said.
Read more!

US: Laos, Cambodia out of trade blacklist

WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama on Friday removed Laos and Cambodia from a blacklist, opening the way for US loans to companies doing business in the former US adversaries.

In brief declarations, Obama said Cambodia and Laos had each "ceased to be a Marxist-Leninist country," a designation that prevents financial support by the US Export-Import Bank.

The move, which still must go through formalities, means that US businesses would be eligible for US government-backed loans and credit guarantees as they can receive when operating in most countries.

"Given the commitment of Cambodia and Laos to open markets, the president has determined that this designation is no longer applicable," an Obama administration official said.

But the decision to boost trade ties with Laos came under criticism from campaigners for the Hmong minority, a hill people who supported US forces during the Vietnam War and recount retaliatory abuse decades later.

A recent report by Paris-based Medicins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders, said Hmong who fled since 2005 to Thailand have said they suffered killings, gang-rape and malnutrition at the hands of Laotian forces.

Obama's declaration "is completely shocking and outrageous," said Philip Smith, executive director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis, which promotes Hmong rights.

"This is a one-party regime which is closely allied with Burma [Myanmar] and North Korea," he said. "This will embolden the Laos government to continue to slaughter and massacre civilians."

Many Hmong are still in hiding in Laos. Another 250,000 Hmong have resettled in the United States.

The United States established normal trade relations with Laos in 2004, part of an effort under then president George W. Bush to reconcile after years of friction.

US relations with Cambodia have been marred by US concerns over accounting for Khmer Rouge war crimes along with corruption. Washington lifted all remaining restrictions on assistance to Cambodia in 2007.

The United States still forbids US-backed loans to businesses to operate in six countries –Cuba, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria.
Read more!