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Takeo’s Prek Lapouv nature reserve at risk from drought

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Boeung Prek Lapouv Protected Landscape Area in Takeo province in October. BIRDLIFE INTERNATIONAL CAMBODIA

Takeo’s Prek Lapouv nature reserve at risk from drought

BirdLife International Cambodia has expressed concern that the water level in Boeung Prek Lapouv Protected Landscape Area in Takeo province may not reach last year’s level, putting animals foraging for food during the dry season at risk.

The organisation said on October 17 that the reservoir in the protected area located in the province’s Borei Cholsar and Koh Andet districts has also not received enough water compared to previous years.

The water level has only risen to about 1m this month, while in October last year it rose to about 3m.

“We have observed that the water level has been declining from year to year. The water has been slow to flood and recedes quickly. It has created concerns for this wetland,” it said.

“When the water level rises too slowly, storing water for cranes and other birds for foraging in the dry season will be difficult as the entire area dries out quickly, forcing cranes to move out of the area.”

The NGO said the low flood levels and a short flooding period will also have a negative impact on the management of invasive plants, namely thorn bush. Under these conditions, the plants will have a higher regeneration rate after the water recedes. Water is the main factor used to control the growth of the plants.

“We hope that the water will continue to rise, because through our team’s daily record, the water level rises by about 2cm a day and continues to rise,” it said.

Bou Vorsak, BirdLife International Cambodia programme manager, told The Post on October 18 that the protected area received water from the Bassac River and conditions had changed over the last five years. He said many farmers grew dry season rice and pumped water from streams to irrigate rice paddies.

“While the water received was less and flowed out faster and has been pumped to rice fields in the last five years, we have also seen that the water has dried up quickly. It means the water in the protected area has been severely depleted.

“We previously made water from the reservoir flow naturally so that water from the reservoir would not flow down to streams too quickly.

Vorsak added that the reservoir had been ready for three years. This year is the fourth year for the 16ha water storage in its test phase. After three years of testing, the reservoir can hold water for only one month, as water leaked from the reservoir and there were high evaporation levels.

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