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Endangered vulture numbers go up but still down from 2020

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Vultures at Dongplet village in Chheb II commune of Preah Vihear province’s Chheb district on June 10. Heng Chivoan

Endangered vulture numbers go up but still down from 2020

Cambodia's vulture population increased from 82 to 121 in just over a month, according to this year’s third census conducted on June 20, but still less than the peak number recorded last year.

Vulture census is conducted five times a year by the Ministry of Environment and the Cambodia Vulture Working Group (CVWG), which comprises of members from relevant ministries and NGOs working in the fields of wildlife and environment protection.

This year’s third census found 20 red-headed, 66 white-rumped, and 35 slender-billed vultures. The previous two censuses were conducted on March 10 and June 10.

According to the CVWG report obtained by The Post on July 12, the census was undertaken at four so-called vulture restaurants – Siem Pang Wildlife Sanctuary in Stung Treng province; Chheb Wildlife Sanctuary in Preah Vihear province; Sambor Wildlife Sanctuary in Kratie province; and Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary in Mondulkiri province.

The number indicated an increase compared to the June 10 census, which recorded only 82 vultures – 13 red-headed, 42 white-rumped, and 27 slender-billed vultures.

Environment ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said two more censuses would occur on September 20 and December 20. He noted that the total number of vultures in 2020 was 129, the highest number on record.

Pheaktra said the census was important to monitor population trends and improve conservation efforts.

“This is a monitoring of biodiversity in protected areas in Cambodia to find out what wildlife is present in protected areas. This is for us to facilitate effective planning on protection and conservation to preserve the biodiversity that Cambodia has,” he said.

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS Cambodia) country director Ken Serey Rotha said white-rumped, red-headed, and slender-billed vultures were the most endangered species. His NGO has organised supplemental feeding through vulture restaurants to monitor their number.

“WCS Cambodia, in collaboration with the environment ministry, is implementing conservation activities in protected areas through supplementary feeding and nest protection programmes, developing a deeper understanding of vulture risk factors in Preah Vihear province,” he said.

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