Accoording to a survey by conservation organisation NatureLife Cambodia, there are 70 sarus cranes currently living in the Anlung Pring Protected Landscape Area of Kampot province, the highest number of any of the three provinces where the rare birds are found.

Bi Thona, coordinator of the organisation’s “Srov Met Kriel” (“Friends of the Sarus Crane”) project, noted that eight of the 70 cranes (Antigone antigone) – which can grow as tall as a man – were juveniles.

He explained that the project, which is being implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, aims to encourage stakeholders to participate in biodiversity conservation.

“Currently, we are working on a project to improve wetland ecosystems by reducing the use of agrochemicals that affect birds, especially sarus cranes, which are a globally endangered species,” he added.

He said the project monitored the birds, while also working with local communities to ensure the correct storage of agrochemical waste.

He added that in 2023, only one sarus crane was found dead, likely due to old age.

Bou Voraksak, director of NatureLife Cambodia – established with support from BirdLife International and financial support from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund – said a 2022-23 census revealed that the Kingdom’s sarus population was 180. A new survey is currently underway in Kampot, Banteay Meanchey and Takeo provinces, the three provinces where the birds can be found.

He explained that while they can also be seen in Laos and Vietnam, Cambodia has a larger population of the species than its neighbours.

“The presence of sarus cranes is important to support the ecosystem and also attracts tourists, thus raising the standard of living for local communities,” he said.

According to Voraksak, it is a source of pride that Cambodia has more of the cranes than its neighbours. He encouraged the public to play their part in the conservation of these birds, and discouraged people from purchasing goods made from wildlife.

The Anlung Pring Protected Landscape was established by a government sub-decree in 2016. Spanning 217ha, it serves as an important habitat and source of food for many migratory birds, as well as the non-migratory sarus cranes.