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Rare species losing habitats

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Storks at Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary in Ratanakkiri province are threatened by development. BirdLife Cambodia

Rare species losing habitats

BirdLife International Cambodia Programme has expressed concern about the presence of humans that are possibly disrupting the nesting of lesser adjutant storks in Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary in Ratanakkiri province, a region under serious threat from habitat loss and disruption due to human activities.

They became concerned after examining five lesser adjutant nests and discovered that two of those nests had failed, meaning that the storks’ that had built those nests mating efforts had not resulted in any live offspring.

Bou Vorsak, Cambodia Programme Manager at BirdLife International, said on December 16 that the lesser adjutant stork is vulnerable, but in recent years it had been breeding successfully at the Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary.

He added that compared to 2019, the number of nests has significantly decreased, primarily due to loss of habitat to humans who are engaged in activities like mining and quarrying in the area.

Experts are now attempting to more closely monitor the remaining storks’ movements in order to determine where the others might have relocated to.

“We will try to restore the habitat that has been lost due to industrial activity and other disruptions. We will inform the government about the impact of these activities, particularly the Ministry of Environment along with other relevant ministries. Hopefully we can work together to reduce these activities and their harmful impacts,” he said.

According to Vorsak, Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary is a good place for conservation work and normally well-suited to the presence of this species. He called for the participation of all organisations, communities, local authorities and relevant ministries to protect the sanctuary, which is an invaluable part of Cambodia’s natural heritage.

The Ministry of Environment’s secretary of state and spokesman Neth Pheaktra said on December 16 that Lesser Adjutant is under the conservation of the Ministry of Environment in partnership with several civil society organisations, all with the shared goal of conserving Cambodia’s natural resources and environment, as well as a shared love for Cambodia’s wildlife. Stakeholders will continue to try to conserve all of Cambodia’s remaining rare animals by working together to address these issues.

“We have the same concerns as BirdLife International about the lesser adjutant. It is facing significant challenges. The best way to address these challenges is to take active steps like enforcing the relevant laws and education outreach to the community about the conservation of these birds.

According to Pheaktra, the preservation of wildlife and forest habitat will make for a healthy ecosystem which will boost eco-tourism by making Cambodia a more attractive destination to experience nature’s beauty.

Along with educating the public about the benefits of conservation, Pheaktra said that the relevant authorities must stay vigilant and work to prevent forest crimes such as illegal hunting because strong deterrence through swift apprehension and punishment of offenders is important to the success of these efforts.

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