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Animals and Plants as National Symbols of Cambodia



1- គោព្រៃ= Kouprey (Bos sauveli): The National Mammal of the Kingdom of Cambodia

The Kouprey, an original Khmer species, has been recognized worldwide and named in Khmer version by international biologists even though English, Spanish and French call it Kouprey. Its scientific name is “Bos sauveli” with a size: HB: 2100mm-2300mm; H: 1700mm-1900mm and W: 700-900 kg. The Kouprey is similar to the gaur or banteng but they are unique in having a very long dewlap hanging from the neck, in old males almost reaching the ground. The bull and cow horns are distinctly different. In the bull Kouprey, the horns have cores which are closer together and considerably larger; the horns form a convex curve for the basal half of the horns, dropping below the base, then rising upward and forward, extending slightly above the head with split at the tips. The horns in the female are lyre-shaped, corkscrewing upward, the tips are never shredded, and the cores are thinner and farther apart than in the male. The lower legs of the Kouprey are white or grayish and dark grayish at old age. In the pre-war period, hunting of the Kouprey was prohibited by declaration No. 191 dated January 20, 1960. After the Pol Pot regime, hunting was again prohibited by declaration No. 359 dated August 01, 1994, issued by Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries. Kouprey was classified as a critical endangered species according to the IUCN Red List. International Trade of this species is banned, following Appendix I of the CITES Convention and Migratory Species Convention.

In the 1960s, the King of Cambodia identified and declared the Kouprey as the Cambodia natural heritage symbol. It has been written about in popular Khmer songs, especially some melodies, describing the richness of nature and the important of comparability of human, animals, and nature for peace and prosperity. Kouprey were often found in herds of 20 or more and also found with gaur, banteng or sambar deer. They are more intelligent, more industrious and more easily frightened than other species in their family and they are strong, agile, and good at smelling and fast moving. Kouprey can tolerate sunlight, low quality food and Bovine Spongiform Encephalop Pathy (SBP) diseases.

2- ត្រយ៉ង= Giant Ibis (Pseudibis gigantea): The National Bird of the Kingdom of Cambodia

The Khmer common name is “Tror Yorng or Kangor Yak or Aov Loeuk”. The scientific name is “Pseudibis gigantea” and English common name is “Giant Ibis”. Giant Ibis has dark grey-brown plumage, light red legs, curved downward bill and 104cm in body length. Hunting of Giant Ibis was prohibited by declaration No.359 dated August 01, 1994 issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. It was classified as a critical endangered species according to the IUCN Red List. Giant Ibis is one of the species that in the past distributed almost throughout Southeast Asia, but at present tine it can only find in the North and Northeast parts of Cambodia. It has been written about in popular Khmer songs and Khmer traditional tales. Cambodia people had believed that Giant Ibis is very intelligent, if a fail hunting on them in any places, they will never come to those places for ever. Their bloods were traditionally used for malaria treatment in the isolated villages. It is a popular bird, people like them a lots, especially it’s morning calls that connected to the heart of Cambodian farmers for love introduction as well as for remaining that it is time for going to the fields.


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