The Environment Ministry and the Wildlife Conservation Society are this week educating villagers in Preah Vihear province over the need to protect the recently rediscovered masked finfoot duck.
On Tuesday, about 300 villagers from Raksmey, Komprak and Antil villages in Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary received education over the need to protect the endangered species and not hunt it. Further lessons are planned for today in other villages within the sanctuary.
In July, conservationists from the ministry and WCS found a masked finfoot nest for the first time in four years on the Memay River in the sanctuary, the only confirmed breeding location.
Rours Vann, WCS research team leader, said the lessons are key to conserving the species and protecting it from poaching.
“We often go down to visit villagers and explain the importance of protecting endangered species,” he said. “We all have to protect and conserve them for the next generation and also the country.”
Mr Vann said that before they received education, villagers had been hunting the duck for food, but have agreed to not do so any more after learning it is on the brink of extinction.
“We will also give lessons to people in Cham Sre village, another village in the sanctuary, and along the Memay River,” Mr Vann added.
The masked finfoot lives only in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Its global population is less than 1,000 individuals, while little is known about numbers in Cambodia.