This year’s Habitat ID expedition in Cambodia’s Virachey National Park centered on servicing our most far-flung camera traps and exploring new terrain along the Lao border. Sadly, I had to be escorted out of the Park on the third day of the trek (which lasted 2 weeks) due to a brutal attack of kidney stones. Fortunately I made it out of jungle in one piece, and better yet I was treated to two mornings of gibbons singing the forest to life, and to the calls of hornbills, barbets, Crested Serpent Eagles, and many other avifauna.
One of the greatest surprises was a shot of a mother Binturong with two cubs in tow. In fact, this species appeared on six of our camera traps, so while we understand that this beauty is fast disappearing throughout much of its range, Virachey remains a kind of haven for it, a global stronghold for sure. Author William deBuys describes this viverrid as something straight out of a Dr. Suess comic, in his fabulous 2015 book, The Last Unicorn, which describes a “protected area” in Annamite Mountains of Laos. In fact, Binturongs don’t show up all that often in camera traps placed in Cambodia, and one of the reasons that Virachey has so many is that VNP is actually part of the Annamite Cordillera, an area where Binturongs used to be found in greater abundance. The species is now being mercilessly trapped and hunted throughout much of its range.
Animals seen on the fly (by the rest of our team, not me) include: Red-shanked Douc Langurs (including the fur of one that had been shot, killed, skinned and eaten in what was probably a Vietnamese poaching camp near the Lao border), Northern Buff-cheeked Gibbons, Muntjac, cobra, and several types of Hornbill. In other words, the trek was a treat. The cameras did not disappoint either, reconfirming all species that previously appeared on our list and adding a few new ones as well. Still, I was saddened that elephants did not make an appearance. We were really hoping for them!
The cameras in the Yak Yeuk Grasslands area will be checked again in early April, and we will post a full 2016 Report when those memory cards come in. In the meantime, you can learn about our new project site in Sumatra’s Hadabuan Hills, just south of Lake Toba.
A new adventure begins!