The number of wild birds dying in the Tuolporn Taley Boeung Sne Multiple Use Area in Prey Veng province has dramatically decreased. But to prevent the spread of Covid-19, Ba Phnom district authorities continue to ban tourists from bird watching in the area, according to the local community.

Community head Puth Bo told The Post on April 21 that over the last week, only a few dead birds were found in the area a day. This number is much less compared to the outbreak of bird flu A/H5N1 in March, when an average of 100 died a day.

“The decreasing death rate of birds in the area could be caused by the bird flu reducing its effect or because these past few days there has been much rainfall,” he said.

Citing data from March 17 to April 19, he said 2,009 birds had died of bird flu. Of the dead birds, the openbills made up the majority at 2,000.

Theay commune’s Kampong Sleng village guard chief Kang Thoeurn said he had led community members to search for and collect dead birds in the area to destroy them. The search was also joined by veterinary and environmental officials. For two days on April 20-21, his working group had not found any dead birds.

He also worked with security personnel to stop people violating Covid preventative measures.

“However, the Ba Phnom district authorities and environmental officials in Prey Veng province have yet to reopen the area for bird watching over fears of Covid-19,” he said.

Ba Phnom district governor Tep Phearun told The Post on April 21 that not finding dead birds was a sign that the bird flu had run its course. But during this time, the February 20 community outbreak has been a serious risk. So, Tourists are banned from the area.

Phearun added that the authorities are now enforcing lockdown measures. So, travel between provinces was restricted, especially the hotspots of the Covid-19 outbreak. Those who violate the ban will be fined and jailed for six months to a year.

Meanwhile, Prey Veng provincial environment department director Toch Varotha told The Post that when the Covid-19 community outbreak subside, the provincial committee would evaluate the situation again.