Searching for the Elusive Kouprey

The Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund has announced an award to fund research into an elusive wild cattle species, the Kouprey, in the Northern Plains of Cambodia. The study will investigate populations of wild cattle in the Northern Plains, focusing on finding signs of the survival of the Kouprey. This survey will also provide valuable data on the distribution of other wild cattle species. Preah Vihear Protected Forest is probably one of the most likely locations in which any remaining Kouprey may persist as it contains large areas of grassland and open forest. The site is remote from human habitation and contains large grasslands, dry open forest, waterholes and salt licks.

The last known field observations of the Kouprey were made by the explorer Charles Wharton in 1957, all in Preah Vihear province. His studies found the species to be relatively abundant in this region, although it was less abundant than other wild cattle species such as Banteng.

Surveys will focus on suitable dry season Kouprey habitat, using remote cameras at specific sites including water holes and salt licks in grasslands. The digital camera traps used for this study will provide multiple high quality images. Additional targeted observational surveys using information from community members will be carried out.

A report of the survey will be completed. This report will assess the population status of wild cattle and, in particular, the continued persistence of the Kouprey in the Preah Vihear Protected Forest. Information on large mammal populations will be used to inform management planning at the site.

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