The team

Principal Investigator

Vanessa Herranz Muñoz

Vanessa in the field for the CBC Fishing Cat survey2015

Vanessa is a Conservation Zoologist with a long-standing interest in wild cat species. Her passion for studying rare, lesser-known small and medium-sized cats in Southeast Asia brought her to Cambodia in 2014 to work with Fauna and Flora International (FFI) in conjunction with the Centre for Biodiversity Conservation (CBC) and the the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP) to address knowledge gaps about Fishing Cat populations in Cambodia.

In 2015 Vanessa played a key role as Research Consultant in the CBC‘s Fishing Cat survey (more info here- CBC study post), surveying a total of five sites across Cambodia, subsequently announcing the photo-capture of three individuals across two sites, the first camera-trap record of the species in the country since 2003. Read the published findings here.

Now leading future Fishing Cat conservation actions in the country, Vanessa aims to close knowledge gaps on these fascinating cats in what could be one of their last strongholds in Southeast Asia.

She is delighted to be undertaking this research with support from Panthera and Denver Zoo, and wishes to thank both organisations, in addition to the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEFR) who funded the 2015 CBC Fishing Cat survey.

The Kla Trey | Cambodian Fishing Cat Project research will form Vanessa’s PhD from the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos (Madrid, Spain) with Carnivore Specialist, Emilio Virgós acting as Supervisor.

See examples of Vanessa’s previous work here.

Research Consultant


Ret placing camera-traps for the 2015 CBC Fishing Cat survey

Ret is a Research Officer for Fauna and Flora International (FFI), currently engaged in the Elephant Conservation project based in the Cardamon Mountains in southwest Cambodia. The project works alongside forest communities to reduce human-elephant conflict, in addition to raising awareness, conducting population surveys through camera-trapping and habitat threat mapping.

2015 was a big year for Ret; graduating from the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP) with a Masters of Science (MSc) in Biodiversity Conservation, she also acted as Principal Investigator for the CBC’s Fishing Cat survey to identify priority sites and conservation actions in Cambodia. Playing a central role in coordinating technical aspects, such as placement of camera traps, and essential communication with local community members, Ret was overjoyed about the photo-capture of Fishing Cats at two sites: “This is a remarkable discovery as fishing cats are very vulnerable to human persecution… the excitement of such a discovery is overwhelming.” Read more

Her continued support and technical assistance of Fishing Cat research in Cambodia for the Kla Trey | Cambodian Fishing Cat Project is invaluable, given her thorough working knowledge of the area and local community.

We wish to express our gratitude to FFI and the CBC for granting Ret permission to collaborate with the Kla Trey | Cambodian Fishing Cat Project.

Community Officer

Sothearen THI

In addition to being our Community Officer, Sothearen currently works with the Forestry Administration‘s Department of Wildlife and Biodiversity.

Whilst studying for her Master of Science (MSc) in Biodiversity Conservation at the Royal University of Phnom Penh (from which she graduated in early 2014), Sothearen was working as a researcher for Fauna and Flora International (FFI)’s Cambodia programme, focusing on the ecology and abundance of Pileated Gibbon in Bokor National Park. She also assisted research on the Giant Ibis, contributing to the first population census on the species in Western Siem Pang Protected Forest in 2013. For her Master’s thesis, she studied communities’ use of natural resources (NR) in forests in Pursat (part of the Cardamoms), aiding design of agroforestry measures to mitigate the impact of NR extraction. In 2014, she conducted a study of human induced impacts on flooded forest at Kampong Luong floating village on the Tonle Sap.

Sothearen’s extensive experience working with rural communities began in 2010 when she commenced work in a community-based project which aimed to improve the sustainability of local livelihoods in Saang, Kandal Province. She has since provided training on wildlife care and biodiversity conservation to rural communities bordering Protected Areas, and facilitated training of trainers sessions on use of the Mekong Ecosystem Environmentally Sensitive Development Manual in 2016. Latterly, she was part of a team which researched the status of and threats faced by bears in Cambodia. Currently, she is trialling measures to reduce the volume of solid waste from communities entering waterways to mitigate the impact of effluent into rivers, which adversely affects biodiversity of estuarine ecosystems, including mangroves.

We wish to express our gratitude to the Forestry Administration for granting Sothearen permission to collaborate with the Kla Trey | Cambodian Fishing Cat Project.

Research Assistants

Sarady MOUL

Alongside studying for his Bachelor Degree in Environmental Science at the Pannasastra University of
Cambodia (PUC), which he is completing as of February 2017, Sarady has gained a lot fieldwork experience. Beginning with water quality assessment of communities in Chnok Tru Village, Kampong
Chnang Province on the Tonle Sap River in early 2012, he then took part in mangrove replanting efforts in Peam Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary as part of Cambodia’s World Wetlands Day event in early 2013. Later that year he joined the Water for Cambodia team to install biosand water filters within a community in Takeo province, travelling to Kandal province to deliver training on the importance of forest and biodiversity to high school students shortly after. In September, Sarady visited the Vulture Restaurant in Western Siem Pang, Stung Treng province to assist with their annual vulture census.

In 2014, Sarady interviewed villagers about waste disposal and collected samples to assist Institute of Technology of Cambodia research to determine the physical composition and solid waste generation from the municipality of Phnom Penh. In 2015-2016, he acted as Research Assistant to Dr. Jan Kamler (Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) )’s project on the ecology of Dholes (which informed the 2015 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species assessment and subsequent paper on the range collapse of the Indochinese leopard) and endangered large carnivores in Mondulkiri Protected Forest.


Reaksmey SOPHATT

Following his graduation from the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP) in 2015 with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, Reaksmey is now undertaking his Master of Science (MSc) in Biodiversity Conservation at the RUPP.

Reaksmey assisted in the Mycology Laboratory in the RUPP’s  Department of Biology, and co-authored the 2016 paper Thermophile mushroom cultivation in Cambodia: Spawn production and development of a new substrate, acacia tree sawdust.

His role as Junior Research Assistant at the Centre for Biodiversity Conservation (CBC) led to fieldwork, including: photography and collection of plant specimens from Koh Kong and Kampot province for the National Herbarium (housed within the RUPP’S Department of Biology with collaboration from the Muséum national d’histoire naturelle of Paris), bird surveys on Phnom Samkos in the Western Cardamoms, and targeted surveys for Green Peafowl in Mondulkiri.

Communications Officer

Claire Baker-Munton

Claire is an independent journalist and writer with a long-standing interest in environmental issues, particularly understudied “non charismatic” species.

She hopes the work of the Kla Trey | Cambodian Fishing Cat Project will raise the profile of not only the spectacular Fishing Cat but other threatened species, and shed light upon natural resource use and management in fragile wetland ecosystems.



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