A biodiversity team from Conservation International Cambodia (CI Cambodia) is surveying and identifying birds in the Central Cardamom Mountains National Park, while wildlife research teams from the Ministry of Environment and World Wide Fund for Nature Cambodia (WWF Cambodia) – with participation from members of local communities – recorded the presence of white-shouldered ibis in Sambo Wildlife Sanctuary in Kratie province.

Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra confirmed to The Post on August 24 that the survey and identification was being carried out in collaboration with several international organisations.

Pheaktra said the study aimed to find out which species were present.

“We are implementing carbon credit projects in these areas, so we need a detailed survey. We will discover which animals are present – and in what numbers. We may even discover species which require further study,” he said.

He added that the research teams had worked with local communities and recorded a total of 324 white-shouldered ibis with 17 roosting sites.

He said this was the highest number recorded of these rare species in the past 10 years.

“Separately, in the eastern landscape forest, the team recorded seven of these magnificent birds and 22 potential roosting sites. This is a positive sign for these endangered birds,” he added.

The survey counts the total number of this breed of ibis in all natural habitats in the Kingdom.

The Mekong flood forests currently support the second-largest number of white-shoulder ibis, with 252 recorded.

According to a statement issued by CI Cambodia on August 23, the team found nearly 20 species of birds in the central Cardamom park, most of which are endangered species.

“Those birds include the lineated barbet (Megalaima lineata), blue-eared barbet (Megalaima australis), green-eared barbet (Megalaima faiostricta), great hornbill (Buceros bicornis), oriental pied hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris), black and red broadbill (Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos), dusky broadbill (Corydon sumatranus), black-hooded oriole (Oriolus xanthornus), asian fairy-bluebird (Irena puella), siamese fireback (Lophura diardi), red-headed trogon (Harpactes erythocephalus), blue-bearded bee-eater (Nyctyornis athertoni), asian paradise flycatcher (Terpsiphone paradisi), rufous woodpecker (Micropternus brachyurus ), great slaty woodpecker (Mulleripicus pulverulentus), white-rumped shama (Copsychus malabaricus) and the blue-winged leafbird (Chloropsis cochinchinensis),” the statement said.

Thong Reth, coordinator for biodiversity and science at CI Cambodia who conducted one of the field studies, told The Post on August 24 that some unidentified birds had been found in the area.

She expected the discovery to be one of the most important in recent years.

“If it was not for the cooperation of the ministry and partner international organisations, we would be facing the loss of many rare birds. The current survey found that the central Cardamom mountains are still rich in biodiversity – and not just of birds. There are many other rare species living there,” she said.

She hoped the discovery of so many rare birds in the area would encourage the local populations and the general public to participate more in their conservation.