It's a simple amazing experience for all wildlife lovers to see the incredibly rare ‘northern yellow-cheeked gibbons’ in their natural habitat in the province of Ratanakiri.
This rare and endangered species of gibbon was only discovered in 2010 with an estimated 500 groups at the site. This is the largest known population in the world! The site is also home to several impressive mammals like Asiatic black bears, sun bears, gaur (wild cattle), dhol (wild dogs) and various jungle cats such as the leopard and clouded leopard who feed on the site’s wild pigs and deer.
In the west of Ratanakiri province, lies a luscious forest called Veun Sai-Siem Pang Conservation Area. This protected area is the home of this extremely important gibbon population, as well as a host of other endangered species. Together with foreign partnerships and the local communities they have an exclusive one night gibbon spotting trek, the first of its kind in Cambodia.
It's a unique experience for enthusiastic wild life spotters and those who are interested in biology and nature conservation. In the Veun Sai-Siem Pang Conservation Area has a small group of gibbons, which have been subject of research for the past couple of years. The gibbons don’t run away from humans, which makes early morning viewing a real possibility.
To reach their stretch of evergreen jungle required a 4WD trip of 35kms, a boat ride along the Sesan River and then a two-hour bicycle ride punctuated by a lunch stop before arriving at the ranger-research station. Small groups of between 2-6 visitors are allowed to visit the site making this an extremely special
experience. The discovery of new apes was incredibly rare and the opportunity to see this species in their natural habitat is very unique. The best time to see them is around dawn.
Ranger Staion Veun Sai-Siem Pang
Each group of Gibbons consist of two adults and their juvenile offspring. The gibbon species in Veun Sai-Siem Pang
Conservation Area was described for the very first time in 2010 in a multinational collaborative effort by primatologists throughout the region and with data contributions from Conservation International researchers at the site.
The gibbons live in perfect harmony with the Kavet people, who consider the gibbons as extremely important. They are not hunted but respected and share the jungle with the Kavet people.
This is in stark contrast with many other areas in Southeast Asia, where gibbons and other primates are persecuted and hunted for bushmeat, for their perceived medicinal properties, or for the trade in pets. That such a healthy population persists in this area is a testament to the importance of the site and its relatively untouched nature.
The site is managed by a community-based ecotourism group made up of democratically elected community members. All profits which go to the community are spent by the community on
developing the community. Local people are also employed in positions such as trackers, guides and wildlife enforcement, which help maintain the forest and wildlife for their long-term benefit.
Like many forests in Asia, illegal activities are increasingly damaging this forest. External markets drive illegal hunting and logging for luxury timber, while small-scale agriculture chips away
at the edges of the forest. Tigers were once found here, but in the last few years none have been recorded — a stark reminder of what could happen to other species without increased conservation efforts.
The new ranger station of Veun Sai-Siem Pang will combat these threats through increased forest patrols, targeted crackdowns on known wildlife traders, partnerships with local communities and education outreach, backed by a solid
research program. By dispatching rangers in the field, we’ll receive real-time information on what’s happening out there in terms of illegal activities, so we can adapt our strategy as the situation changes.