Govt to ask Cambodia for Eld's deer for breeding

Govt to ask Cambodia for Eld's deer for breeding

Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Varawut Silpa-archa
Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Varawut Silpa-archa

Thailand plans to ask Cambodia for some Eld's deer for a breeding programme to boost the critically endangered species' numbers in the wild, according to the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Varawut Silpa-archa on Monday.

The ministry had discussed the plan with counterparts from neighbouring countries, especially Cambodia, prior to the Covid-19 crisis. The discussions will resume as soon as the outbreak subsides and borders reopen, he said.

Mr Varawut announced the plan at Phukiew Wildlife Sanctuary in Chaiyaphum, where he supervised the release of deer born at the ministry's breeding centre in Chon Buri.

There are only about 100 Eld's deer left in Thailand, half of which were bred and raised at the Chon Buri breeding centre. The critically endangered species has been on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List since 2008.

Despite the success of the state's breeding programme -- which culminated in the release of seven deer at Phanom Dong Rak Wildlife Sanctuary in Si Sa Ket last year and this year at Chaiyaphum -- the lack of breeding pairs has raised concerns about inbreeding.

The centre only has 10 breeding pairs, which it received over a decade ago, said the chief of the ministry's breeding centre, Sompong Boonsanong.

Chatchawan Intumarn, head of Phu Khiew Wildlife Sanctuary said that the ministry is planning to make the Phu Khiew Forest Complex a model site for releasing endangered species bred in captivity back to nature.

The sanctuary -- along with Khao Yai National Park -- have been chosen by the ministry as the site to release tigers into nature.

"If they produce offspring, it proves the area's suitability for such purpose," he said.

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