January 26, 2015
Our efforts at protecting the immediate area, around our house here, at Phnom Tnout are finally starting to pay off. Currently we have about 1 sq km. that I would consider 95 percent protected with an additional 5-10 sq. km. being 75 percent protected. Basically the further one goes from our central hub here the less secure animals are but it’s way better of a situation than last year.
A couple days ago I took an excursion up the mountain to check on a marsh that animals use for drinking. The number of animals I encountered on my two hour hike, was the most of any walk I’ve taken here to date. Within a few hundred meters of the house I had already seen silver langurs. A little further I ran into two peacocks and could hear a third one calling nearby. I walked under a big tree that had upwards of fifty hornbills feeding on ripe fruit. A little further the dogs chased a mouse deer although I didn’t get much of a look at it. Finally I got to the marsh and was surprised to see four woolly necked storks (there is normally only two). There was also a little pig playing in the mud with the dog immediately chased away. As I stood near the shoreline of the marsh inspecting the multitude of animal tracks, I saw a very big boar with nasty looking tusks sticking his head out of the brush not far from me. I held perfectly still and he didn’t immediately realize what I was. When Sippy (the dog) saw him she tore across the grass to have a go at him. Her enthusiasm was short lived though when he charged out of the brush straight at her. With tail tucked tight she made a bee line back to me. Luckily the pig wasn’t too upset as he soon stopped and tried again to work out what I was. Finally he must have got wind of me because he turned and high tailed back to the forest’s edge. Anyway, it was the best look I’ve had of a wild pig in a long time—especially one that big! On the way back home I saw several Siamese fireback pheasants including a nice rooster who was right in the trail in front of me. I also passed another troop of langurs who were not too worried about my presence. I came home feeling optimistic about the prospect of being able to lead tourists in the forest and actually see animals in their natural habitat.
A couple of days later Ben was out checking one of the camera traps. It had been placed at a water hole and we had previously got shots of sambar deer and banteng there. It was about six in the evening and just on dusk. He had removed the camera trap to take it to another location and on walking away noticed a noise from behind in the water hole. A female sambar deer called out and in the distance this crashing sound came – right towards Ben. It was the doe’s baby who was coming to his momma. Ben didn’t move and he just ran right up to his mum, right past Ben.