The species native to Cambodia’s limestone karsts exist nowhere else

A small lake has formed at the bottom of one of the Kampot karsts in Phnom Kampong Trach, a mountain in Cambodia. Credit Omar Havana for The New York Times

KAMPONG TRACH MOUNTAIN, Cambodia — Millions of years ago, a cluster of coral reefs stood firm here as the water receded, leaving them surrounded by the marshy, mangrove-studded Mekong Delta.

Today, these reefs have been carved by the wind and rain into spiky limestone cliffs known as karsts that stand stark against the Cambodian landscape, even as the lowland rain forest around them has been denuded by centuries of intensive rice cultivation and logging.

The karsts are full of nooks and crannies that have nurtured highly specialized plants and animals found nowhere else. They are also important to humans, studded with small altars and temples that are thought to be homes to neak ta, landscape spirits in the local animist pantheon.

Soon, they will be gone. Read more.