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Yellow bellied weasel. Credit: FFI/WildCRU

Yellow-bellied weasel found in Cambodia

Posted on: 27.08.14 (Last edited) 27 August 2014

World’s first photograph of elusive carnivore has important implications for the species.

A joint camera trapping initiative by Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and the University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) has captured the first image of the elusive yellow-bellied weasel in Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains.

This yellow-bellied weasel was found outside its usual range - a great find for scientists. Credit: FFI/WildCRU

This yellow-bellied weasel was found outside its usual range – a great find for scientists. Credit: FFI/WildCRU.

The research team, led by FFI field biologist Channa Phan, was conducting a study of clouded leopards in the Central Cardamoms Protected Forest in the south of the country when they made the surprise discovery.

“When I first saw this image on the computer screen I wasn’t sure what is was,” said Channa Phan. “The picture wasn’t very clear but I could see it was not a yellow-throated marten, which is the only other weasel-like animal known from these mountains. We had to consult with experts before we learned what it was and that it was a new record for Cambodia,” he added.

This discovery adds to the growing list of new species and country records made in the Cardamom Mountains. Credit: FFI/WildCRU

This discovery adds to the growing list of new species and country records made in the Cardamom Mountains. Credit: FFI/WildCRU.

According to Will Duckworth, IUCN SSC Red List Authority Coordinator for Small Carnivores, “This is a really important range extension for what appears to be an overlooked mammal. Although the species is known from Laos, Vietnam and Thailand, there are few records. This new Cambodian discovery extends the weasel’s southern range.”

Whether the yellow-bellied weasel is rare or simply manages to slip through camera traps undetected is not known, but in over 8,000 trap nights the team recorded the weasels only three times.

This latest discovery adds to the growing list of new species and country records made in the Cardamom Mountains, and helps prove the global importance this increasingly threatened area.

You can learn more about this discovery in a paper by Channa Phan et al. in scientific journal, Small Carnivore Conservation (PDF).

Written by
Jeremy Holden

Jeremy Holden is a photographer and field biologist who has worked in association with Fauna & Flora International since 1995. He specialises in camera trapping rare and cryptic animals in the rainforests of Southeast Asia.

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