The WWF released on Thursday the first-ever photograph of a Cambodian leopard with its young taken in Mondolkiri province’s Srepok Wilderness Area.
The image of the leopard and cub was taken by a “camera trap” that was set up by wildlife biologists working with local forest rangers, said Chris Greenwood, communications adviser at the WWF’s Greater Mekong Office.
“This is one of the first indications we’ve had that some of the creatures we feared would be extinct have started to bounce back,” Greenwood said.
“It’s proof that there is regeneration and animals don’t breed unless there are conditions optimal for their survival,” he said.
The picture released on Thursday was taken in February, but was kept under wraps until now as a security measure against poachers converging on the area.
“There’s a little bit of sensitivity around these photos,” he said, adding that in the past poachers have used information provided by wildlife NGOs to locate animals.
“As more and more of Cambodia’s forests get destroyed the supply diminishes and the demand goes up,” Greenwood said of animal poaching.
“Over the past two years the price of some animals has increased around 2,000 percent,” he said.
The WWF hopes that the leopard photograph will motivate donors to continue funding wildlife protection programs, he added.