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What Prowls These New Flooded Forests?

News item submitted by Ed Cremin
News item dated 1 Jul 2010


What Prowls These New Flooded Forests?


The times, they are a changing… and never more so with regards to our Cambodian Forest Project. Like a band of explorers, our dedicated team of researchers and volunteers have embarked on a new challenge, switching camp from the dense forests of Botum Sakor Nation Park to the awesome Tonle Sap Flooded Forests. What made the last three months in Tonle Sap so exciting was the wealth of new research we conducted. Not only that, our team had the privilege of camping (I use that term loosely) on a boat on the middle of the Tonle Sap Lake for a period of time. How exciting is that? This region has shown us an awe inspiring example of the diversity our planet has to offer, demonstrating a huge variation in habitats for wildlife to thrive.


What makes this region so desirable in terms of conservation is not only the level of limited human disturbance, but also the sheer nature of the habitat itself. During periods of heavy, seasonal rainfall, the Tonle Sap Lake triples in size making it Southeast Asia's largest freshwater lake. In fact the seasonal rains even cause the Tonle Sap river to reverse its flow. This highly fragile balance creates an ecosystem so unique and intriguing that it provides habitat to some of the most distinct species on the plant. Unfortunately, some of these creatures are particularly threatened or endangered, such as the Hairy-nosed Otter (Lutra sumatrana) and the elusive Fishing Cat (Prionailurus viverrinus).


After conducting rapid biodiversity assessments in the flooded forests in Tonle Sap, the team are now looking forward to unearthing the mysteries of Kampong Leng forests. Research in this new area is set to investigate bat communities as well as other native, and often endangered, creatures. We also hope to continue our pursuit for the elusive Fishing Cat, with anecdotal evidence from locals indicating they may be present. So if you fancy setting up camp in the middle of beautiful forest, snoozing on a hammock and testing your wits against the elements, then Cambodia is definitely the place for you.


Ed Cremin