More than 2,000 Asian openbill stork nests have been spotted in the Boeung Prek Lapouv Protected Landscape in Takeo province’s southeastern Borei Cholsar and Koh Andet districts for the first time in 15 years.
Boeung Prek Lapouv Protected Landscape deputy head Loem Vat said the 2,186 nests is a new record for the area.
Vat told The Post on October 25 the nests were found on 270 doeum raing (Barringtonia acutangula) trees. The openbills were previously present in the Prek Teal natural protected areas in Battambang province. This year, however, they produced offspring at Prek Lapouv Lake.
Vat said they used to come and look for food but did not build nests.
“More than 10,000 Asian openbills have come to live in this area and it is a safe shelter for them. We guard them and patrol the area every day and night to stop offences from occurring. We try to restore habitats by planting trees. If we don’t pay attention to them, they will go extinct,” he said.
Takeo provincial Department of Environment director Chhoy Munly said the nest building means the area has provided a safe shelter for them.
“The environment department is extremely pleased by this development. We will try harder to cooperate with local authorities, communities and partner organisations to protect this shelter of flooded forest,” he said.
Prek Lapouv Lake is a large wetland in the delta area of the lower Mekong River. It was established as Boeung Prek Lapouv Protected Landscape by a sub-decree dated August 9, 2016, in Borei Cholsar and Koh Andet districts.
The area is seen as important for sustaining, supplying and providing shelter to animals, plants, fish and other wildlife.
BirdLife International Cambodia programme manager Bou Vorsak said in an announcement on October 23 that the shelter of flooded forest and the wetland provided precious benefits to support community livelihoods, wild animals and biodiversity resources.
“The discovery of the nests of Asian openbills is clear evidence this wetland area is not only for flamingos but has the potential for many other bird species,” he said.
Vorsak said BirdLife International had asked authorities to stop offences like land grabbing, disturbing and poisoning birds and to speedily divide up the area to maintain the value of the wetland.
Saber Masoomi, country coordinator for Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), said the wetland has played an important role in sustaining the livelihoods of 5,000 families from 22 villages around it.
The area has provided freshwater, fish and herbs. WWT will continue to help support those people technically and financially, he said.
Srey Sunleang, the director of the environment ministry’s Department of Wetlands and Coastal Zones, said an increase in the number of Asian openbills is showing the effectiveness of management, protection, and natural resource conservation in the area.
“The work of protecting and conserving natural resources is not the burden of the environment ministry alone. It calls for participation and cooperation between all relevant people,” he said.
Asian openbills have been present in Prek Lapouv Lake since 2003 numbering just over 100. The figure has been increasing year after year.