Unknown to science until 1994, the large-antlered muntjac is a critically endangered species of deer native to Lao PDR, Vietnam and Cambodia. However, until recently, only adults had ever been photographed in the latter.


Camera trapping in Virachey National Park, a relatively unexplored wilderness in the north-east of the country, has captured the first ever images of a large-antlered muntjac fawn in Cambodia (pictured above with its mother). It was thought that these were also the first images of the species within the park, but another surveying project has since published images.

The images were taken as part of a large camera trap survey by Fauna and Flora International (FFI) with Cambodia's Ministry of Environment to photograph the variety of species within the park, which conservationists hope will secure greater protection for the area.

The large-antlered muntjac is similar in appearance to the Indian muntjac which is more common and widely distributed, but it can grow much larger and is sometimes known as the giant muntjac. Both species are related to the Reeve's muntjac (also known as the Chinese muntjac), which is an introduced species in the UK.

A camera trap image of a male large-antlered muntjac, amongst forest.
A male large-antlered muntjac. © FFI

The survey also captured images of variety of species, including the critically endangered Sunda pangolin, endangered dhole, northern yellow-checked crested gibbon, Asian golden cat (pictured below), clouded leopard, marbled cat, moon bear, and sun bear (final picture below).

A camera trap image of an Asian golden cat, amongst forest.
An Asian golden cat. © FFI

“For the Cambodian people, Virachey holds a very special significance as a sort of ‘last frontier’ – an area that had previously not been fully explored and even now likely retains much to be discovered,” says Jeremy Parker, Country Director for FFI’s Cambodia programme.

“Our team deployed over 80 cameras within seven separate grids to provide as much coverage of the park as possible, encompassing many different altitudes and habitat types. This led them through tropical evergreen forest, bamboo landscapes, grasslands, across rivers and streams and up to mountain peaks.

“FFI’s expedition this year was the first of its type in over a decade, and certainly was the most wide-ranging biodiversity survey of Virachey ever conducted. We are looking forward to continuing our work in the park in 2022, with follow-up surveys and further studies of the northern yellow-cheeked crested gibbon, the large-antlered muntjac and other critically endangered species.

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“We will also begin supporting indigenous communities through livelihood initiatives that reduce their dependence on hunting and fishing within the park’s boundaries, and help them strengthen their own management of park resources through Community Protected Areas.”

A camera trap image of a sun bear, amongst forest.
A sun bear. © FFI


Main image: A female large-antlered muntjac with her fawn. © FFI


Megan ShersbyNaturalist, writer and content creator