Nest Protection In Cambodia’s Northern Plains

SVC supports major bird nest protection program in Preah Vihear.

Since 2015, SVC has been working with Wildlife Conservation Society Cambodia (WCS) on this vital project to protect large critically-endangered birds.

Species include:

  • Giant Ibis Thaumatibis gigantea (Critically Endangered),
  • White-shouldered Ibis Pseudibis davisoni (Critically Endangered),
  • Slender-billed Vulture Gyps tenuirostris (Critically Endangered)
  • Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus (Critically Endangered),
  • White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis (Critically Endangered),
  • Black- necked stork Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus (Near Threatened)
  • Woolly-necked stork Ciconia episcopus
  • Greater Adjutant Leptoptilos dubius (Endangered)
  • Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus (Vulnerable)
  • Bengal Florican, Houbaropsis bengalensis (Critically Endangered)
  • Sarus Crane Antigone Antigone (Vulnerable)

This program has shown significant success:

  • Up to 500 nests of threatened birds protected by local people annually in the northern plains, including Giant Ibis and Sarus Crane. Success rates of protected nests are more than twice that of unprotected.
  • Bengal Florican populations have remained stable at Stoung-Chikraeng, the site SVC visits, in contrast to declining populations everywhere else.
  • Rapid recovery of the water bird colony at Prek Toal: now 25,000 nests of nine species are protected annually by community Rangers.
  • Population stability, and in some cases growth of White-shouldered Ibis.

Two Research Team Leaders work with 14 community rangers – people from the communities showing keen interest in wildlife, often ex-hunters. They get a salary from SVC and per diem for the work they do deep in the forest. The rangers monitor the two protected areas for wildlife and illegal activities and have been trained to do transects and collect other scientific information. They play a key role in biodiversity monitoring in the park.

The rangers find the nests or are informed by community members. Under the program, local people and contracted community wildlife rangers are rewarded with ‘direct conservation payments’ to locate nests with a bonus if the nestlings successfully fledge, within both Kulen Promtemp Wildlife Sanctuary and Chhep Wildlife Sanctuary. The SVC/WCS rangers monitor the activities of the nest protectors.

Data collected by the Bird Nest Protection Program is the primary method of verifying biodiversity indicators (nests identified each year and fledgling success) employed by WCS to monitor population trends of globally-threatened bird species and assess the conservation impact of local livelihood schemes such as eco-tourism.

The Community Rangers also collect information regarding injured or dead animals, very essential data, as poison fishing is not uncommon and keeping track of poisoned forest ponds is critical for the survival of these water birds.

The community rangers in the Bengal Florican Conservation Area and Sarus Crane conservation areas, work in a similar fashion.

Supplementary Feeding for Critically Endangered Vultures

SVC funds Chhep Wildlife Sanctuary Vulture Restaurant each year in addition to tourism funding. There are three Critically Endangered Vulture species in Cambodia – White-rumped, Red-headed and Slender-billed Vultures.

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