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Habitat loss threatens bird species

Mom Kunthear / Khmer Times Share:
The WCS says it is concerned its conservation work since 2002 could be undermined by habitat loss. WCS

The Wildlife Conservation Society yesterday said that it has protected more than 3,800 nests of 11 globally threatened bird species in tandem with the Ministry of Environment since 2002, leading to the hatching of nearly 7,000 birds in Preah Vihear province.

At the same time, WCS raised concerns that their hard work to protects the birds may be undermined by a changing threat as poaching has dropped but habitat loss has increased.

Rours Vann, WCS’s wildlife monitoring team leader in the Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary, said yesterday that the tallied figures mark a success for the organisation’s work with the ministry, but noted WCS remains concerned.

He said that their efforts in nest protection have reduced the threat of egg poaching, but a new threat of habitat loss remains worrisome.

“When communities have the opportunity to obtain socio-economic benefits from their wildlife assets, they are more motivated to protect them,” he said. “But we are still worried about the safety of these birds as they are being disturbed by land concessions, building of houses and the villagers’ use of poison to catch fish – which causes birds to die.”

“We are concerned with whether or not these birds can exist forever or not,” he added.

The birds protected through WCS’ work include the Giant Ibis, White-shouldered Ibis, White-rumped Vulture, Red-headed Vulture, Greater and Lesser Adjutants, Oriental Darter, Blacknecked Stork, Sarus Crane, White-winged Duck and Masked Finfoot.

Mr Vann said relevant authorities on all levels as well as community members must join to protect the birds’ natural habitat and prevent poaching.

“I want to send a message to government officials who have a role in prevention to join us in protecting our wildlife. If we do not protect it, we will lose them in the future,” Mr Vann said, adding that community members must continue to inform the Environment Ministry or WCS should they see a new bird’s nest.

Ken Sereyrotha, WCS’s country program director, said that the nest protection program is a component of the broader conservation approach in the Northern Plains.

“This involves working closely with our government, community and NGO partners to establish and manage protected areas, develop land-use zoning plans and enhance wildlife-friendly livelihoods.” he said.

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