Rare giant barking deer spotted in Cambodia

Phnom penh: A critically endangered giant barking deer has been spotted in Cambodia for the first time, in a boost for the country’s wildlife preservation efforts, officials said Friday.

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The giant muntjac – known for its long antlers – was captured on a hidden camera in April in northeast Cambodia’s Virachey National Park in Ratanakiri province, environment ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said.

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But the discovery was only made recently after Cambodian authorities retrieved the camera and trawled through months of footage from the forest, which has long been a site of illegal logging.

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“This is the most exciting news for Cambodia and for the whole world that such a rare and most critically endangered species was discovered in Cambodia,” he said.

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“This is a positive result for the government’s efforts to protect natural resources.”

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The species was first found in forests in neighbouring Vietnam and Laos in 1994.

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Muntiacus vuquangensis, as it is scientifically known, is on the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature as critically endangered.

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Illegal logging remains a major environmental hazard in Cambodia, with vast tracts of forest under threat since the country’s civil war ended in 1998.

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Virachey National Park suffered rampant deforestation in the early 2000s but its situation has been improving.

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“The park has become a safe shelter for wildlife,” Neth Pheaktra said.

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