Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Positive outlook for the giant ibis: conservationists




Positive outlook for the giant ibis: conservationists

A giant ibis looks for food at a forest watering hole in Mondulkiri province in 2012
A giant ibis looks for food at a forest watering hole in Mondulkiri province in 2012. WWF

Positive outlook for the giant ibis: conservationists

Experts involved in the protection of Cambodia’s national bird, the giant ibis, have lauded the successes of an ongoing conservation scheme, and offered cause for optimism that the animal can overcome its current status as critically endangered.

According to Alistair Mould of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the Birds Nest Protection Program has seen nest numbers for 10 globally threatened bird species – including the giant ibis – rise from 46 to more than 250 between 2003 and 2014, while the number of chicks who have grown the feathers for flight rose from 53 to over 400 for the same period.

“This indicates the importance of continued support to this effective project,” Mould said.

The program was first established in 2002 by Cambodia’s Forestry Administration, with WCS providing assistance in locating, protecting and monitoring nest sites. Since 2013, USAID’s Supporting Forests and Diversity Project (USAID SFB) has also taken part, supporting a payment program for the oversight of the birds’ protection.

The scheme sees local residents paid up to $5 for each report of a new nest. In the case of giant ibis nests, they are also then paid for regular monitoring during the roughly 70 day period between chicks hatching and taking flight.

In the past, over-hunting and egg theft devastated giant ibis numbers, while in more recent years forest clearing has taken a heavy toll. Although those activities continue, the protection program has helped reverse their effects – with former hunters often employed as community rangers charged with finding and monitoring nests.

According to Mould, the program has seen 181 giant ibis nests protected in the birds’ habitat in Cambodia’s Northern Plains since 2004, with an average of 16 nests found and 29 chicks fledging annually.

Yet the bird remains listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, a designation based on a species seeing a more than 80 per cent historic decline and having less than 250 mature individuals surviving in the wild.

But for Mould, the gains made in recent years warrant optimism for the future: “We anticipate that, supported by USAID SFB, the Northern Plains would continue to demonstrate increases in populations.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated "chicks who have grown the wings for flight" when it should have said "feathers".

MOST VIEWED

  • All inbound flights set to face added scrutiny

    Ministry of Health spokesperson Or Vandine said on Monday that the ministry is monitoring all inbound flights, after it was announced that only those from Malaysia and Indonesia will be temporarily cancelled from August 1. Vandine said on Monday that the two countries were identified as

  • Flights from Indonesia, Malaysia cancelled

    A Ministry of Health official has warned of the possibility of Covid-19 spreading through community transmission after the total infected cases in the Kingdom rose to 225. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine told reporters on Saturday that the possibility of community transmission cannot be overlooked and that

  • Man in quarantine dies of ‘overdose’

    The Ministry of Health on Thursday said a Cambodian migrant worker who died while being isolated at a quarantine centre in Tbong Khmum province’s Kroch Chhmar district may have died from syncope or overdose of tablets. In a statement, the ministry said the 21-year-old

  • Ministry set to reopen 20 schools in August

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport will allow 20 high-safety-standards schools to reopen next month despite new cases of Covid-19 in the country. Ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha wrote in a Telegram message on Wednesday that the schools are in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang.