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Praise the lard: More hog badgers spotted

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The greater hog badger (Arctonyx collaris) is listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species as “vulnerable”. ENVIRONMENT MINISTRY

Praise the lard: More hog badgers spotted

Motion-sensitive camera traps deployed across Cambodia’s protected areas have captured an encouraging number of greater hog badgers as of late, according to Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra.

This development is a source of pride for the Kingdom and a reflection of a biodiversity-rich landscape worthy of international acclaim, he said with a nod to the ministry’s team of experts that reviewed the footage.

The greater hog badger (Arctonyx collaris) is listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species as “vulnerable”.

It features on the list rare mammals found in the Kingdom that face varying degrees of extinction risks, which contains “vulnerable” animals such as gaurs (Bos gaurus), leopards (Panthera pardus) and clouded leopards (Neofelis nebulosa); “endangered” ones including the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) and banteng (Bos javanicus); as well as the “critically endangered” giant muntjac (Muntiacus vuquangensis).

Pheaktra said that now with Cambodia in a period of profound peace, there is ample opportunity to develop a wider variety of plans and actions to advance the protection and conservation of the Kingdom’s natural resources.

He indicated that forests and wildlife are adequately protected, but that even so the endangerment status of individual species varies considerably.

"A number of rare wild animals persist in Cambodia’s protected areas – some populations are stable, other are increasing and still others are on the decline," Pheaktra said.

The greater hog badger’s head-plus-body length ranges from 65-104cm, with tails 12-17cm and hind legs 11.5-13.4cm, and adults typically weigh between seven and 14kg, the ministry said citing expert studies.

It is a nocturnal, ground-dwelling mammal that prefers tunnels and rocky crevices, and is characterised by relatively large feet with lengthy, powerful, curved, white nails and a long snout somewhat reminiscent of a pig’s.

With a relatively weak sense of sight and hearing, the animals use their snouts much more widely to experience the world, the ministry said, adding that a normal litter size is two or three cubs.

Greater hog badgers emerge at dusk to forage for tubers, bulbs, corms, rhizomes, roots and other plants, as well as earthworms, insects and other small animals, the ministry added.

Pheaktra said hog badgers can occasionally be spotted in forests in the northern, northeastern and southwestern parts of the country, noting that no comprehensive national or global population data is available.

The Arctonyx genus includes three known species – the greater hog badger (A collaris), northern hog badger (A albogularis) and Sumatran hog badger (A hoevenii) – and is distributed across Cambodia, China, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Indonesia’s Sumatra.

Pheaktra underlined that greater hog badgers in Cambodia are under threat from poaching and trapping for their meat or other forms of commercial exploitation, profiting from the use of its lard in traditional medicines embedded in superstition.

The ministry said Cambodian wildlife is globally recognised for its diversity, with at least 2,300 plant species, 123 mammal species, 545 bird species, 88 reptile species, 874 fish species and 63 amphibian species.

It stressed, however, that these numbers would increase further as more biodiversity studies and research are made available.

In the first six months of this year, park rangers removed nearly 20,000 snares and other traps from the Kingdom’s protected areas, according to the ministry.

And early last month, rangers from the ministry and Wildlife Alliance Cambodia rescued a hog badger from a snare and set it free, it said.

“Park officials and partners will stick to their guns in protecting and conserving these natural resources [protected areas], which serve as critical habitats for wild animals, and remove traps for their safety,” the ministry said.

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