The Angkor temple complex and the surrounding forest are one the most culturally and archaeologically significant locations in Southeast Asia. This historic UNESCO World Heritage site was once a vibrant forest, home to various primates, big cats, deer, birds and other species until excessive and unrestricted hunting in the late 20th century decimated wildlife populations.
On December 12, 2013, a pair of endangered pileated gibbons took their first steps towards a new beginning in the wild in the forest surrounding the Angkor Temple Complex in Siem Reap, Cambodia. This release marked the beginning of a new endeavor between Wildlife Alliance, the Forestry Administration and the Apsara Authority who manages the World Heritage site, to repopulate the forest surrounding the high-profile tourism destination. Stretching over 40,000 hectares, the park receives around 2 million visitors a year, making this reintroduction program an excellent opportunity to educate visitors on the importance of conservation, while showcasing Cambodia’s dedication to wildlife protection.
This ambitious project signals a renewed impetus to protect Cambodia’s natural heritage. With better management and enforcement of the law, the Angkor forest has now become a safe haven for wildlife. Animals, such as pileated gibbons that are at risk of being poached or disappearing due to severe habitat destruction, can now wander freely without risk of harm. The released gibbons thrived in their new home, and in October 2014, a baby was born to the released pair. The birth signified the triumph of this unique reintroduction program. Subsequent releases include another gibbon pair along with a trio of Endangered silvered langurs, all of which are now flourishing in their new home.
With permission from the Cambodian government, we hope to expand on this success, and in 2016, we would like to release several other species including sambar and muntjac deer, slow lorises, leopard cats, peafowl, binturongs and civets. Each animal would require specific rehabilitation protocols and enclosures appropriate to the different species in order to acclimate to their new surroundings before release. To ensure the animals are healthy and safe, post-release monitoring equipment is also necessary to survey the animals after their release.
Help make the exciting expansion of this program a reality. $9,340 will build one release enclosure, and supply 12 camera traps and 6 radio collars. Your gift will not only bring wildlife back to Angkor, but more importantly, give these animals a second chance at life in the wild.