Angkor Centre for the Conservation of Biodiversity

To increase awareness of and breed endangered species in Cambodia

 

Many South-East Asian wildlife species are threatened today due to various reasons including unsustainable use and illegal trade. For instance, turtles have become traditional components within Chinese medicine and cuisine. Due to the growing economy in the 1980ties and especially after the opening of the market and free exchange of the currency, the trade in exotic animals started. The fast growing economy and prosperity in large portions of the Chinese population generated a growing demand for luxury and exotic food. Since China has not been able to meet the demand on its own, turtle populations within whole Southeast Asia have been plundered within the past two decades, affecting about 70 turtle species. Several species have already been eradicated, many more are on the brink of extinction and have not been seen for years in their natural habitats, e.g. the Yunnan box turtle (Cuora yunnanensis) has been verified in 1906 for the last time and thus is considered to be extinct. The red-necked pond turtle (Chinemys nigricans), the yellow-headed box turtle (Cuora aurocapitata), McCord’s box turtle (Cuora mccordi), Pan’s box turtle (Cuora pani) and Zhou’s box turtle (Cuora zhoui) are considered “commercially extinct” and thus are assumed to be almost or already extinct in the wild, but after all small numbers of these species are existing in captivity. At least 25 other species are also on the brink of extinction. Some species are only known from few market places where they have been found, thus being given as the “terra typica” in the respective description of the species.

 

In the recent past, it has become evident that Cambodia's wildlife is in better condition than in most other countries in South-east Asia. It is also apparent that the country at present lacks the human resources, regulations and expertise to manage most of the related issues. For these reasons the idea of a nature conservation and education centre was proposed by the Cambodian Government in 2000. In May 2002 a respective Memorandum of Agreement was signed between the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) on the one hand and Münster Zoo and ZGAP on the other hand. A site of about 25 ha at the archaeological site of Kbal Spean, about 30 km to the north of Siem Reap, was assigned to the project by MAFF. The objectives of the ACCB are to provide facilities for the conservation of selected endangered native wildlife (appropriate rescue, breeding and reintroduction programmes), to serve as a training and resource centre to increase capacity for conservation and environmental management activities across Cambodia and to provide environmental education for Cambodian and foreign visitors, linking local and international environmental issues to biodiversity conservation. Funding for the principal facilities as well as running costs for the first two years is secured by Dr. Stephan Goetz from Munich via Stiftung Artenschutz (Species Conservation Foundation, Münster), the educational component of the ACCB is financially supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ).

 

In January 2004, the first buildings and facilities were put into operation, this being the quarantine station and two houses with living rooms, offices and storerooms. Also in January 2004, the first animals - confiscated turtles from a close-by market - arrived. Keeping and, if possible, breeding highly endangered freshwater turtles will be one of the main emphases of the breeding centre of the ACCB integrating the ex situ breeding of Asian turtles in the International Centre for the Conservation of Turtles (IZS, see below) at Münster Zoo with ex situ breeding in Cambodia and in situ field research. Besides, future husbandry in birds shall concentrate on greater adjutants, giant ibis and white-shouldered ibis while the focus in mammals will be on smaller species such as viverrids, primates, ungulates and pangolins.

 

WAZA Conservation Project 04010 is jointly operated under a MoU between MAFF Cambodia, Münster Zoo (Germany) and Zoologische Gesellschaft für Arten- und Populationsschutz (ZGAP). 

 

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