The Angkor Centre for Biodiversity Conservation (ACCB), based in Siem Reap province, plans to set six lesser adjutants free after rescuing and rehabilitating them and following the release of seven other birds earlier this year.
ACCB country director Christel Griffioen told The Post that these six lesser adjutants were ready to be returned to their natural habitat.
“The birds arrived at the ACCB through our rescue and rehabilitation programme in collaboration with the government, our conservation partners and concerned citizens. Whenever we release animals, we do so in collaboration with the government and in partnership with other conservation organisations in Cambodia,” she said.
Griffioen added that some of the lesser adjutants came to the centre after being found weak or injured. Other birds were seized by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry Administration.
The release of the additional birds will happen between now and the end of November, depending on the accessibility of the selected release sites and Covid-19-related travel restrictions, she said.
The lesser adjutant is a vulnerable species in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN) Red List. According to ICUN, the global population of lesser adjutants is estimated at 5,500-10,000 mature individuals.
Griffioen said ACCB released 80 animals back into their natural habitats in 2020, four of which were lesser adjutants, and 43 animals this year.
She said the centre aimed to release animals as soon as possible after arrival. But if their rehabilitation takes several months, they would usually be released during the rainy season when there is an abundance of food.
“Upon arrival at ACCB, our veterinarian will give them an examination. We conduct a Rapid Avian Influenza test [bird flu] to ensure they are negative for the disease. We do this to protect other birds at the centre.
“Depending on their age, behaviour, and health status the birds stay at our facility until they complete rehabilitation. Initially, they are housed at one of our quarantine enclosures and afterwards at one of our other enclosures.”
The centre recently released four lesser adjutants in Chreav commune.
“All four storks were previously rescued for different reasons and after successful rehabilitation, they are now ready to be released back into their natural habitat. The rainy season is the perfect time to release stork species as there are plenty of fish available at inundated floodplains, trapeangs, and lakes.”