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New giant ibis habitat discovered

A rare giant ibis discovered last month by a local villager is seen walking through shallow water in Stung Treng’s Siem Bok district
A rare giant ibis discovered last month by a local villager is seen walking through shallow water in Stung Treng’s Siem Bok district. PHOTO SUPPLIED

New giant ibis habitat discovered

Last month, a villager in Stung Treng province’s Siem Bok district stumbled across the nesting site of an endangered giant ibis, inadvertently discovering in the process the first such nest ever documented in the Mekong Flooded Forest, the local conservation group WWF-Cambodia announced.

According to a statement from the group, the discovery of the nest in a previously unknown habitat is a positive development for the beleaguered national bird, of which fewer than 350 still survive.

“Giant Ibises don’t like to be disturbed and are very shy – they tend to live far from human settlements,” WWF research technical adviser Gerry Ryan said in the statement. “The presence of Cambodia’s national bird is further proof that efforts in managing and conserving the area and its biodiversity are worthwhile and having an effect.”

However, giant ibis habitats have been under siege in recent years. In 2011, an economic land concession was granted in what had once been part of the Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary. Cambodia’s Northern Plains region, where Kulen Promtep is located, is thought to be home to over 40 per cent of the Kingdom’s giant ibises.

More economic land concessions in Stung Treng’s Siem Pang Forest threaten Ibis habitats there, a 2012 report by BirdLife International Cambodia found.

Meanwhile, the recently discovered nest in Stung Treng is doubly threatened, the WWF statement says, first by an economic land concession slated for the area, and again by a planned dam at Sambor, which could flood the Ibises’ “critical” habitat.

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