The Kampong Thom provincial Department of Environment and BirdLife Cambodia have recorded the presence of more than 60 endangered species in the Stung Sen “Ramsar site” and the Boeung Chhma core area within the Tonle Sap biosphere reserve in Kampong Thom province.

Ramsar sites are protected areas designated as such in accordance with the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands – an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands that was originally negotiated and signed in Ramsar, Iran, back in 1971.

“We see that more than 60 species of birds came to feed in the Stung Sen Ramsar site and Boeung Chhma area. This is due to increased law enforcement and regular patrols by our rangers,” said provincial environment department director Tob Kakada on September 9.

According to Kakada, the Boeung Chhma core area covers more than 28,000ha and the Stung Sen Ramsar site covers 18,000 ha, with just 12 rangers patrolling this vast area.

He said that previously when the rainy season began, poachers set traps and poisoned the birds, but in recent years the number of birds has increased significantly, including species that had never been present in this area before but are now finding refuge there, thanks to access restrictions and enforcement activities against lawbreakers.

Bou Vorsak, Cambodia programme manager at BirdLife International, told The Post on September 9 that rangers patrolled these areas every week and recorded 60 species under threat including darters, grey-headed fish eagles, spot-billed pelicans, lesser adjutant storks and painted storks.

“After we threw our support behind this plan, the rangers began making a weekly patrol. We’ve also supported communities in establishing natural protected areas and assisting them with managing biodiversity in their areas,” he said.

He added that NatureLife Cambodia – a national conservation organisation established with technical support from BirdLife International and financial support from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund through the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – has been working at the Stung Sen Ramsar site and Boeung Chhma core area since 2018.

BirdLife International has also assisted with improving the capacity of rangers and their ability to patrol and monitor the situations at these sites.

Bou Vorsak said the Ramsar site is an important habitat for birds and fish because it is a large-scale flooded forest wetlands area. At the beginning of each rainy season, many species of birds such as grey-headed fish eagles will migrate to the site to forage for food. When the water recedes, they then migrate elsewhere for the same purposes.