Encountering the Wildlife of Cambodia

Many who have visited Cambodia - tours, solo holidays, or otherwise - will fondly recall the diverse, unique and interesting array of wildlife they encounter. The country's wildlife represents an important part of the animal kingdom, as many are recognized by the World Conservation Union as being endangered species. Due to such damaging occurrences as deforestation, the population of many of Cambodia's most beloved animals - such as elephants, tigers, bears and buffaloes - is sadly dwindling.


There are about 212 species of mammal which are native to Cambodia. Tours of the country are provided by many destination specialists, and will allow you to glimpse some of these magnificent beasts in their natural habitat. These mammals include the Asian Elephant [which is the largest living land animal in Asia], the endangered Hog Deer, the Asian Black Bear [described by writer Rudyard Kipling as 'the most bizarre of the ursine species'], and the leopard, the smallest of the four big cats.


For those visiting Cambodia, tours may allow them the opportunities to see some species of freshwater fish - but chances are they won't bump into all 850! Some of the most prominent include: the colourful Asian Arowana, or 'Dragon Fish', which inhabit slow-moving rivers; Channa, or 'Snakehead Fish', which are used frequently in Cambodian cuisine; and Barbus, a ray-finned fish also popular in cooking.


536 species of bird are native to Cambodia. Tours in the country are a great opportunity for avian enthusiasts to spot at least some of these many species. A few of the most common are: grebes, small to medium-sized birds which do not like land but excel in diving and swimming; pelicans, which have a distinctive beak and webbed feet with four toes; and storks, the long-necked, very large but mute birds which migrate.


In total, there are approximately 240 species of reptile in Cambodia. These cold-blooded vertebrates include: the Green Sea Turtle, also known as the Pacific Green Turtle, whose name comes from the green fat beneath its shell; the infamous King Cobra, the world's longest and most venomous snake - a immensely dangerous species; and the Saltwater Crocodile, or Indo-Pacific Crocodile, which is the biggest of all of the world's living reptiles.


There can be found, in the wilds of Cambodia, many types of non-marine mollusks. The Mekong Delta, in particular, is populated with a massive variety of freshwater gastropods. On land, there is also a considerable collection of land gastropods - including the Camaenidae, which are a family of air-breathing land snails.

Article Source: Andrew Mulvaney

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