We plan to build a pre-release enclosure for ungulates at our Wildlife Rehabilitation Station in order to ease their transition into the wild and to get two camera traps to monitor the hoofed animals after they have been released.
The Mekong region has the greatest diversity of ungulates - hoofed animals - on earth! However, many of these species are nearing extinction. A large portion of these ungulates are endemic to the region, so if they disappear here, they will be gone forever. The decline of these populations is driven by human pressures, such as hunting and human development causing habitat loss. Ungulates are also important prey for predators in the region, such as tigers, who have recently been declared functionally extinct in Cambodia. If ungulate populations keep declining, tigers will not be able to return to Cambodia and the country's other native predators will not be able to sustain themselves.
In the first half of 2016, we successfully released over 1,200 animals into the wild, which is our primary goal for all the animals we rescue. Animals that have fully recovered and those born at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center are released into protected habitats under IUCN protocols. By releasing our healthy ungulates, we not only provide them with a second chance at life in the wild, but also helps to keep wild population numbers from declining.
When ungulates are ready to be released after being cared for in captivity we often care for them in pre-release enclosures before they are set completely free. These are large enclosures set in the protected habitat where the animal will be released. Pre-release enclosures provide a safe environment for the animals to acclimate to their new home- the rainforest. Pre-release enclosures give the ungulates space to forage and exposes them to the elements of the forest. This transitional step is key to ensuring a successful release, especially in animals that have been born in captivity.
After we release animals into protected habitat, we often monitor them to make sure the release was successful. One non-intrusive way to do this is through the use of camera traps. Motion sensor camera traps are placed in the forest and snap a picture or video every time an animal walks by. Through strategic placement of these cameras, we are able to determine population sizes of animals in the area. We can monitor population trends and make sure they stay stable.
$6,000 will help build an ungulate pre-release enclosure and two camera traps.
Long Term Impacts
Ungulates play a key role in the ecosystem, feeding on grass and leaves and serve as prey for many native predators. By releasing ungulates into their native habitat and monitoring populations, we help ensure the survival of these important species and give the animals a life they deserve. We also help ensure the survival of native predators.