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The Return of the Hog Nosed Badger

News item submitted by Frontier
News item dated 23 Oct 2009

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Recently the Cambodia Forest (CBF) research team was both surprised and overjoyed at finding a hog badger in Botum Sakor National Park. The team was able to successfully rescue it from a snare, and reported it was the first time they had recorded the species since setting up base in 2004. Following this, the Frontier team then went on to clear another 500 snares in Botum Sakor! The huge number of snares the CBF team found reflects the high level of snaring intensity in Cambodia, a sign of the poaching problems occurring in the area, causing this furry-four legged mammal to be classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN (International Union of Conservation of Nature). 

Forests are the hog badger’s main habitat and they are often found in hilly or mountainous areas ranging as high as 3,500 m. The species are increasingly being found at higher elevations indicating an altitudinal restriction due to over hunting. The major threat to the hog badger is hunting by dogs as well as snaring, primarily for human consumption, and gun-hunting. Habitat loss may also be a potential cause of the recent population decline.

Although hog badger is cited as relatively common in southwestern and eastern Cambodia but has never been spotted in Botum Sakor. More worryingly, there is only one species of hog badger, Arctonyx collaris, demonstrating the need for heightened protection of the species. Fortunately it is protected by law in both India and Thailand where populations have also shown signs of decline. The hog badger is under significant threat in Cambodia, with sightings far and few between, with no enforced protection.

 

This particular species has been known to have a large appetite and feeds on roots, earthworms and small living creatures amongst many other things. They are excellent foragers, using their pig like noses and keen sense of smell. A recent study found the hog badger to consume more mammals and gastropods than any other species studied.

Hog badger numbers and the true impact of humans on this species has not been studied. Thus the team in Cambodia are keen to carry out further research and monitoring, so as to quantitatively identify the effect of exploitation on the hog nosed badger population.