Cambodia, a small country in continental Southeast Asia bounded by the Gulf of Thailand, is home to 123 mammal species, 545 bird species, 88 reptile species, 2,308 vascular species, 874 fish species, 70 hard coral species, 8 seagrass species and 63 amphibian species. A total of 874 fish species have been recorded, of which 490 are freshwater fishes belonging to 64 families, 410 are saltwater fishes from 83 families, 22 are threatened; one is endemic; and 13 are introduced fish species. Furthermore, although over 500 bird species have been recorded, it is likely for this number to go easily over 600. Cambodia’s protected areas system include seven national parks (7,422 square kilometers), ten wildlife sanctuaries (20,300 square kilometers), three protected landscapes (97 square kilometers), three multiple-use areas (4,039 square kilometers), six protection forests (13,500 square kilometers), and eight fish sanctuaries (235 square kilometers).
Biogeographically, Cambodia is dominated by lowlands along the Mekong River and the Tonle Sap (Great Lake), which are the most populated sites and where most agricultural lands are situated. The three mountainous regions in the southwest, north and northeast are less populated and remain rich in forest resources. The Tonle Sap provides a wealth of biological resources. Specifically, the seasonal flooding of the Tonle Sap supplies suitable conditions for growing rice and fish, the staple diet of Cambodians. The Tonle Sap ecosystem was, and still is, considered by many to be the heart of the country.
In terms of species diversity, 55 per cent are endemic plants. Based on the results of a taxonomic assessment in 2007 carried out by the Research Centre for Biology of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), 31,746 different species of vascular plants have been recorded and described. For fauna diversity, about 515 species of mammals may be found in Indonesia, 781 species of reptiles, 35 species of primates, 1,595 species of birds, and 270 species of amphibians. Indonesia is a key player in global biodiversity, counting as one of the 17 countries with the richest biodiversity, or what is also known as megadiversity12.