At least 27 nests of critically endangered bird species have been found the Siem Pang wildlife sanctuary in Stung Treng province, according to the BirdLife International Cambodia Programme.
In a report released on Tuesday, BirdLife said its biodiversity team discovered 16 giant ibis nests and 11 vulture nests. Two of the latter belong to red-headed vultures, while nine others house slender-billed vultures.
Seventeen eggs from 12 giant ibis nests successfully hatched, while the remaining four nests are under the protection and monitoring of BirdLife’s volunteers.
At least 320 white-shouldered ibises have been recorded since BirdLife launched a census on October 15 last year, it added.
The figure is higher compared to that of other wildlife sanctuaries across the Kingdom, and only second after that of Indonesia, BirdLife said.
BirdLife’s programme manager Bou Vorsak told The Post on Tuesday that there are about 1,000 white-shouldered ibises worldwide, with most of them living in Cambodia.
“This fact indicates that Cambodia is highly responsible to protect and conserve the critically endangered species,” he said.
White-shouldered ibis, Vorsak said, are already extinct in Thailand and Vietnam, while in Laos, only a handful of the species still exists.
He said Siem Pang Wildlife sanctuary is one of the world’s most important existing natural forests for the conservation of endangered wildlife species, such as the white-rumped vulture, Eld’s deer and gaur – in addition to the other mentioned species.
However, Vorsak expressed concern that deforestation and the use of animal traps – including electrical shock devices and poison – by illegal wildlife traders and loggers contributed to the rapid loss of critically endangered animal species.
“If these activities continue to exist, forest and wildlife will disappear,” he said.
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) country director Ken Serey Rotha told The Post on Tuesday that white-shouldered ibis can be found in five provinces – Preah Vihear, Stung Treng, Kratie, Mondulkiri and Ratanakkiri.
A 2017 census in wildlife sanctuaries across those five provinces recorded at least 1,200 white-shouldered ibises, an “extremely high number” compared to that of other countries in the region, he said.
Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said many rare species in Cambodia see their numbers spike.
This is due to “the conservation efforts carried out by the ministry, as well as relevant authorities and NGOs,” he said.
“To preserve biodiversity, especially the critically endangered animals, the ministry will continue strengthening law enforcement by cracking down on and prohibiting illegal logging, poaching and wildlife trading,” he added.