The roar of the tiger has been replaced by the growl of the chain saw in Northeastern Cambodia’s Virachey National Park, along with the honking of great hornbills, which has been supplanted by the chirping of crickets. Once-majestic stands of old-growth forest are now vast fields of bamboo, which is actually just grass. This is what empty forest syndrome looks like.
We set camera traps in some of the most remote, most inaccessible corners of the park, near the Lao border—confirming my fears that the dreaded syndrome is slowly but surely migrating across the Vietnamese and Laos borders into this beautiful but long-embattled national park. Just two years ago we were “trapping” gaur (the world’s largest wild bovine) in families, clouded leopards, golden cats, and marbled cats put in regular appearances, and we even found elephants, otters, and dholes, an Asian wild dog. Things have changed.
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