project review

Cambodia Forest - Monkey Sightings!

Review submitted by Maike Demski
Review date 27 Sep 2010


With the phase complete and everyone safely back in the civilized world where there is running water and flushing toilets, we can reflect on the successes of our third phase this year.  During the so-called 'rainy season' in Cambodia we were based near a small Khmer village in a landscape of forested hilltops, poking out above the sea of paddy fields, which ordinarily flood at this time of year.  The promised flooding held off til the end of the season and did not come with the force we were expecting from reports from other years.  We were, therefore, able to continue our surveys both at the base of the hills as well us up around them.  Hard work, marching up hillsides in search of animal tracks, birds and ever hopeful of spotting monkeys, we surveyed approximately a quarter of the 'mountains' of Kampong Leng (All hills in the otherwise flat landscape of Cambodia are described as mountains and believe me by the end of the phase they felt like they were). 

Our focused surveys for herpetofauna yielded 15 different species of amphibian and 4 different species of reptile - although had we been a little quicker with our reactions we might have captured more.  I'd have to say that honestly we only managed to capture about 1% of the reptiles that we saw.  We excused our slow reactions putting them down to the more energetic abilities of herps during the rainy season... the truth will out next phase when we try again. 

In the last few days we made a concerted effort to increase the number of butterflies that we managed to catch, with RAs and staff alike recklessly flinging themselves through bushes and trees in hot pursuit of an as yet un-captured butterfly - only to be eluded once more as the butterflies spiralled upwards.  If I didn't know better I would say they were taunting us... a whistle on the wind echoing a hollow laugh.

In the final week we decided to break out into as yet uncharted ground and lay the ground work for future phases of transect surveys.  A hard days walking over uneven ground with the sun beating down above us, we trekked along the mountainside and down into the valley to another smaller mountain poking out from a series of vegetable plantations and buffalo grazing grounds.  Perseverance and patience were finally rewarded in the last week of the phase with a sighting of a monkey and her baby in a tree on the hillside - later identified through the binoculars as a long-tailed macaque. Here's hoping that next phase will yield as many exciting sightings and captures as this phase did.


Read more about Cambodia Tropical Wildlife Conservation & Adventure Project.