The Northern Plains of Cambodia are the largest remaining intact block of a unique landscape that once covered much of Indochina. Dominated by open deciduous forest, grasslands, and seasonal wetlands, the area has been described as the Asian equivalent of the African savannas. It maintains a community of large mammals and wetland birds found nowhere else in the world.
The Northern Plains are one of the most spectacular and important areas of south-east Asia for birds. Over 260 species are known from this landscape including 21 species of global conservation concern, including the critically endangered Giant and White-shouldered Ibises, as well as five vulture species and the endangered White-winged Duck.
There are also many globally important populations of threatened mammal species in the Northern Plains. The largest species is the Asian Elephant, which is found mostly in evergreen and riverine forest, and there are also two species of wild cattle (Gaur and Banteng). These three species have an important ecological role in keeping open trapeang or water holes and maintaining patches of open ground around these key sites as these are important for many threatened bird species. Other mammals found in the Northern Plains landscapre include Dhole, Eld's Deer and Sambar.
A factor influencing the importance of the landscape for waterbirds and large ungulates is the relatively flat topography. During the wet, season grasslands and ponds provide ideal conditions for both large waterbirds and ungulate species. The monsoon rains occur mostly from May to October and make up most of the rainfall. Average annual rainfall is approximately 1,500 mm. Average temperature over the year is 28.2°C with an average minimum of 24.2°C and an average maximum of 32.1°C.
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