Wildlife conservationists expressed concerns after finding one sarus crane dead last week at the Anlung Pring protected landscape without being able to determine a clear cause of death.

Bou Vorsak, Cambodia programme manager at BirdLife International, said that sarus cranes are a species “highly vulnerable” to extinction, even though the Ministry of Environment and partner organisations are working hard to protect them.

“For conservationists, losing even one of this species is a big concern, because if we refer to the latest census in 2022, there were only 156 remaining sarus cranes throughout Cambodia,” he said.

He stressed that losing this sarus crane also presented another problem because they did not know the exact cause of the death, noting that conservationists have sent the carcass to a laboratory for necropsy.

He said it would take some time for experts to examine it at the laboratory and determine if the crane died due to old age or some other concerning factor.

“We are so concerned because if the crane died from pollution or infectious disease, then it could spread to other cranes. We need to find the exact cause so that we can find more solutions and measures,” he said.

The sarus crane was found dead by conservationists on February 6 at the Anlung Pring protected landscape in Kampot province in a grasslands area where cranes feed every day.

Sarus cranes are typically present from March to November in three important locations: Ang Trapeang Thmor Wildlife Sanctuary in Poy Char commune of Banteay Meanchey province; Anlung Pring protected landscape in Kampot province; and Beoung Prek Lapouv protected landscape in Takeo province.

From December to February each year, the cranes migrate to Preah Vihear, Ratanakkiri and Mondulkiri provinces for their mating and nesting season.