Arriving at the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity, I was ready for a day of documenting the rescued wildlife that they look after and the species that they aim to conserve. Turtles, birds, primates, mammals, they take in any animal in need, but the first animal in need was nearly me. Despite my rather deeply held fear of venomous snakes, I wasn't paying attention to the path as ACCB Curator Mike Meyerhoff introduced me to the latest changes at the ACCB. I nearly stepped on a baby snake which first made me worried for the animal, and then very worried for myself!
Leaping out of the way like a frightened ballerina, the keepers were radioed and the snake quickly displaced back to the forest. It's not just for it's own safety, but the safety of the animals, including many babies, that live at the centre.
Ok, take two, let's get some time with all these endangered species!
No sooner do I head off to start snapping photos than Mike receives a call from the local forestry department: an injured raptor has been reported in Siem Reap (around an hour away from the ACCB) and it needs attention. The sanctuary will have to wait as I get a taste of what life is like for the staff, on call 24-hours to help rescue animals whenever they are needed. Off we go!
The bird is a juvenile Brahminy Kite and it looks in relatively good condition. The owners say that it was found injured and now they are donating it to the ACCB as it is large and needs looking after. Whatever the reason for it being here, it's quickly put inside the transport cage and is taken back for a check up at the ACCB.
And we're back! It's dark by the time we reach home, and the kite is given a once-over by Mike to see it's general health and if there are any critical issues that need taking care of. In fact, the bird is in relatively good health but its wings have been severely clipped.
Birds are usually excellent release candidates even if they have been in captivity for a long time and for healthy birds they can often be released soon after they are rescued. For this young kite however, it will be months before his flight feathers grown back, meaning that for the near-future he will be cared for by the ACCB. Once he is able to fly, they will re-assess his potential for release.
Take 3, and after checking on the kite in the morning (he is doing great), I finally get to catch up with the hugely varied species that live at the sanctuary.
There are hundreds of animals living at the ACCB at any given time, and the keepers are kept extremely busy not just with the sheer numbers but also the variety of care and enrichment needed to be tailored for each species. The ACCB cares for Sarus Cranes, Sunda Pangolins, Indian Civets, Slow Loris and many other rare and endangered species. From huge forest habitats for the gibbons and silvered langurs, to large aviaries for the raptors and other birds, to swampy ground enclosures for the turtles, just about every type of habitat is catered for.
A handful of these animals were not yet ready to look after themselves. Actually, it was two animals, but they are literally a handful each, as these babies were tiny, very young and needing round-the-clock care from the ACCB staff. Both the male Pig-Tailed Macaque and female Silvered Langur were being bottle fed as they were losing weight and in danger of getting sick or even not surviving in the long-term.
The cheeky little macaque wasn't happy about a new male in his territory and was challenging me by alternately showing his pouting lips and his backside at me, while the baby langur was a little afraid of visitors. Luckily they are in very good hands and once they are strong enough they will be introduced to their respective friends in the forest enclosures.
I was so happy to finally get to visit the ACCB again a few years after my first visit, and to see the help I have been able to provide thanks to the generous supporters on my Patreon page. I was very happy to see the photos from my previous visit on ACCB merchandise, posters and education material for the many school trips they entertain. It was a reminder to how much awareness is needed and how the smaller charities don't always have the resources they need, and I am honoured to be able to give a helping hand thanks to you!
The future is bright for the animals at the ACCB, not only for their immediate welfare, but for the focus on the conservation of each species that is so important to the ACCB.
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