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Excitement over 1st Sighting of Giant Muntjac in Decades

Phnom Penh: The Ministry of Environment has confirmed Cambodia’s first recorded sighting in decades of the “most endangered” Giant Muntjac. It has released an image of the large deer, taken by a remote camera in Ratanakiri’s Virachey National Park. Since the 1990s, only Giant Muntjac antlers had ever been found in Cambodia, promoting concerns that the species had vanished from the country.

Ministry spokesman, Mr. Neth Pheaktra, said the automatic camera had been set up as part of a wildlife study, between March and May. He described it as “very good news for Cambodia and the world” that the species was still present in Cambodia. Giant Muntjac roam mountainous areas of Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, but sightings have become extremely rare. The deer have been listed as a “most endangered species” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Mr. Neth Pheaktra says the study’s results are “very valuable for the conservation of biodiversity and the environment and we all need to participate in the protection and conservation of this rare species” so that it survives in Cambodia’s forests. He thanked ministry officials and the local community for working together to conduct the recent study, saying, “With better protection and conservation of natural resources, including habitats, food sources and water sources that are essential for the survival of wildlife, we see the presence of many rare species beginning to reappear in the forests of Cambodia. This is a positive result of the efforts of the government and all stakeholders to conserve natural resources.”

Head of the research team of the Ministry of Environment’s Department of Conservation of the East Mekong River Conservation Area, Mr. Pin Chanratana, led the research that was sponsored by the ministry together with Oxford University’s Wildlife Research Office.

He says the Giant Muntjac prefers to live in high, dense and semi-dense forests up to more than 1,000 metres above sea level. It is the largest of the 12 Muntjac species and can weigh in excess of 30 kilograms.


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