A Sambo Wildlife Sanctuary biodiversity monitoring and research team were on November 22 excited to report the presence of 48 lesser adjutant nests, with 68 adult birds and their chicks confirmed living in the Mekong flooded forest habitat.

Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said the increase in wildlife numbers was a sign of improved conservation efforts in Cambodia’s protected areas.

This was, he said, a result of the joint efforts of the Ministry of Environment, conservation partners and all stakeholders in providing safe havens for the survival of wildlife species.

He hailed the research team for their tireless monitoring of lesser adjutants in Kratie province’s Sambo Wildlife Sanctuary, with the results showing that the number of nests had doubled from 24 in 2021 to the current 48.

“The results are part of the joint efforts between the Ministry of Environment and WWF-Cambodia in managing and conserving the sanctuary’s natural resources,” Pheaktra said.

The November 21 announcement represents the highest number of lesser adjutant nests in the Mekong for four years, the Ministry of Environment and WWF-Cambodia said in a joint release.

Pheaktra called for an end to the snaring, trapping and poisoning of animals, which had serious consequences for the survival of wildlife.

He also urged people to stop buying and eating wild animals to ensure the conservation of Cambodia’s wildlife.

“I would like to call on the people living around the Sambo Wildlife Sanctuary to continue to safeguarding the protected area and conserving all wildlife and bird species, as these wildlife resources are important for the sustainability of the natural ecosystem.

“The increase in the number of lesser adjutants and other bird and animal species is crucial to enhancing the potential of ecotourism in the area,” he said.

The Ministry of Environment and WWF, with funding from the government of Belgium and WWF-Belgium, have been implementing the bird nest protection programme by engaging with the local communities.

The communities carry out monitoring and together with rangers conduct regular patrols to safeguard the nests until the birds are fledglings.

The programme focuses on large bird species, including the lesser adjutant, the white-shouldered ibis, the giant ibis and types of vulture.

Listed as vulnerable on the IUCN’s Red List, the Cambodian lesser adjutant population is estimated to be at least 3,000 birds, which are threatened by poaching, loss of nesting habitats and the degradation of wetlands.