More than 300 birds have died at the Tuol Porn Taley Boeung Sne conservation area in Prey Veng province since early March as a result of the hot weather, an area official has said, noting that conservation community members have been burying them to prevent the possible transmission of diseases to other animals.

Provincial Department of Environment director Toch Varotha told The Post on March 29 that the birds began to die starting from the “beginning” of this month. He noted that “20 to 30” birds have been dying each day, but that this had happened before.

“It’s not unusual. Last year it happened in the same way in March and April, because the weather is hot during these months – which causes the animals to be sick and die,” he said.

He added that officials and community members have been collecting the dead animals and burying them every day, and that their samples have been taken to a laboratory for testing.

“When animals die, we also take samples to the laboratory, but the results have not yet come out. So we try to collect them and bury them so that they will not spread [diseases]... and affect other animals,” he said.

However, Varotha said that the number of dead animals has decreased recently, “to around 10 to 20 a day”, because the weather has become cooler compared to previous days.

Nuon Sareth, deputy chief of the area’s conservation community, said that during the patrol, he noticed that “sick and old” birds could inadvertently poison nearby birds through their faeces.

He said more than 300 birds had died so far, including Asian open bills, cormorants, egrets, black-crowned night herons, black-headed ibis and glossy ibis.

The conservation community has continued its daily all-day patrols to collect the dead birds to bury them and protect other animals despite the large number of dead birds, Sareth said. He noted that the dead animals have not affected the influx of tourists, with visitor numbers remaining at their usual of “around 50 to 100” every day.

He said the number of birds in the Tuol Porn Taley Boeung Sne conservation area has steadily increased, despite the recent mass die-off. “Before, there were two to three million birds, and now there are about 3 to 4 million.”