Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Cambodia announced that it had recently found two breeding colonies of lesser adjutants – one containing five nests and the other two – in the north of Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary, Mondulkiri province, as the September-November nesting season rolls on.
A wildlife monitoring team has appointed nest guardians to watch over the wading birds – known scientifically as Leptoptilos javanicus, and is now on the lookout for other colonies, WCS Cambodia said on September 22.
The team has been on the job since early this month, after having guarded a nest of a giant ibis (Thaumatibis gigantea) until the chicks hatched and successfully fledged a few weeks ago, the NGO added.
The lesser adjutant is listed as “Vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List. IUCN estimates that there are around 5,500-10,000 left in the world.
WCS Cambodia said: “The population of lesser adjutants is suspected to be rapidly declining as a result of a variety of threats, most significantly the harvesting of eggs and chicks from colonies, loss of nesting habitat, conversion and degradation of wetlands, and agricultural changes and intensification.
“Lesser adjutants are also threatened by the damaging practice of poisoning pools to catch fish. Last year the wildlife monitoring team found four lesser adjutant nests, however none of the eggs hatched due to human interference.
But not all hope is lost in the drive to save the lesser adjutant storks.
“Cambodia is home to the world’s largest population of lesser adjutants, estimated to be at least 3,000 individuals and declining, although in some areas protection measures are halting this decline,” the NGO said.