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Rare animal species found in southwestern Cambodia.

LONDON, Oct. 3 Kyodo

Scientists have found rare species of animals, some of them believed to have been extinct, in a remote part of southwestern Cambodia, a British conservation organization said Tuesday.

Fauna and Flora International (FFI) said a team of scientists from the Cambridge, England-based group made the discovery between January and May this year during an expedition to the Cardamom mountain range in southwestern Cambodia.

''The survey has produced powerful evidence of the outstanding national, regional and global importance of the Cardamom Mountains for wildlife conservation,'' Jenny Daltry, leader of the FFI team, said in urging the Cambodian government to protect a wide range of animal life in the area from commercial exploitation.

According to the FFI, the group discovered a rare species known as wolf snake and a large population of the critically endangered Siamese crocodile, which was previously thought to be virtually extinct in the wild.

The FFI scientists, working together with Cambodian environmentalists, found evidence of species of animals which were not previously thought to inhabit Cambodia, including the fishing cat, Sikkim mouse, the impressed tortoise and woolly horseshoe bat.

The FFI scientists also heard reports of the existence of a seldom-seen large mammal related to goats or cattle and known to the local people as khting vor, the FFI said.

Apart from Cardamom Mountains, the FFI team also carried out surveys in the Mt. Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary in southwestern Cambodia together with a group of Cambodian environmental scientists, the FFI said.

These were reportedly the first-ever surveys carried out in the area in the last 30 years. The Cardamoms was largely inaccessible to outsiders due to Khmer Rouge guerrilla activities and the presence of numerous land mines.

''It represents one of the last wild places with an almost wholly intact Asian fauna and flora. With its high biodiversity, presence of globally threatened species and the high numbers of endemic species, conservation of its wildlife should be regarded as an international priority,'' Daltry, a conservation biologist, said.

Daltry expressed concern about the future of conservation efforts in the Cardamoms as the region becomes more accessible.

''Hunting for the overseas trade in exotic species, loss of habitat through both legal and illegal logging and slash-and-burn cultivation, road construction and the presence of land mines leaves the future of the Cardamom's plants and animals very uncertain,'' she said.

The FFI has appealed for international funds to help Cambodian authorities to protect the Cardamoms and manage existing conservation areas.

The organization also called for a review of Cambodia's land and wildlife protection laws.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Date:Oct 9, 2000
Words:425
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