Project start date and status:
Vanessa Herranz Muñoz
Vanessa is a conservation zoologist who has co-authored EU conservation and education guidance and she is a member of the Fishing Cat Working Group. Her passion for studying rare, lesser-known small and medium-sized cats in Southeast Asia brought her to Cambodia in 2014 to work with the Centre for Biodiversity Conservation (CBC- a capacity building initiative by the Royal University of Phnom Penh & Flora and Fauna International). She played a key role as Research Consultant in the CBC’s Fishing Cat survey of 2015, surveying five sites across Cambodia, resulting in the photo-capture of three individuals at two sites with no previous records (Thaung et al., in press). Data gathered throughout the project will serve as the basis for her PhD.
Fishing cat records in Cambodia are scarce. Until recently, the species had only been recorded once in 2003.
In 2015, the first survey targeting fishing cat was conducted by the CBC which photo-captured individuals in Peam Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary (PKWS), one of the largest areas of mangrove in Southeast Asia.
Following these findings, Vanessa established the Kla Trey | Cambodian Fishing Cat Project in 2016 in partnership with the CBC and comprising a team of graduates and students from the Centre’s MSc in Biodiversity Conservation Programme, the only one of its kind in the country. The Project seeks to study the newly discovered population in PKWS and implement conservation actions for fishing cat, other threatened species and the mangrove ecosystem as a whole. In 2015, Vanessa and Kla Trey’s Community Officer Sothearen Thi co-authored the Mekong Ecosystem Environmentally Sensitive Development Manual (MECODEM) which will inform community development measures that promote protection of fishing cats and this habitat.
Research began in early 2017 and to date the project has photo-captured fishing cats at seven locations, conducted threat investigation interviews and awareness raising workshops at five villages (200+ participants) and established contact with all stakeholders.