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Keep calm and carrion

The number of Cambodia’s critically endangered vultures has dropped by 50 percent since 2003, with only 121 counted in this year’s census, the Wildlife Conservation Society announced yesterday in a release timed to coincide with Saturday’s ‘International Vulture Awareness Day’.

‘Strong efforts from the government, conservation NGOs and local communities are required to save these vulture species,’ Simon Mahood, a senior technical adviser at WCS, said in the announcement.

Reviews indicate that poisoning is one of the biggest threats to the vulture population, with at least 30 killed over the past five years by deadly poisons widely used by villagers, WCS said.

The census took place on June 20, said Bou Vorsak, programme manager at BirdLife International. Cambodia is home to three vulture species – red-headed, slender-billed and white-rumped.

All of them are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List.

Other threats to Cambodia’s vulture species include habitat loss and food shortages caused by low numbers of wild ungulates and domestic cattle.

Photo Courtesy Birdlife International

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