Vulture conservation groups are spending more than $1,000 per month to feed Cambodian vultures in Stung Treng province in a bid to discourage them from flying off into neighbouring countries where they could get killed.
Ty Srun, a Birdlife International Cambodia officer based in the province’s Siem Pang district, said today that the organisation spends more than $1,000 to buy animals to feed the birds twice a month.
“We take care of the vultures and other birds at a protected forest area in the district where they live,” he said. “The Environment Ministry has stated that it does not want our vultures to seek food in the forests of neighbouring countries where they may be killed and Cambodia will lose a natural resource.”
Chao Lengthol, an Angkor Center for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB) official in the province, said his organisation spends from $330 to $350 each on cows or buffaloes to feed 121 vultures living in the protected forest area.
“Every month ACCB buys cows or buffaloes from villagers and transports them to the area, where they are killed and the carcasses are left for the vultures to feed on,” he said. “We also encourage villagers to inform us if they find any vulture habitat.”
Mr Lengthol noted that the organization pays out $10 for each habitat that is found.
According to ACCB, Cambodia is home to three vulture species, the White-rumped vulture, the Slender-billed vulture and the Red-headed vulture, all of which are critically endangered. A major threat for these animals is secondary poisoning from illegal hunting practices.
Cambodia’s vultures play an important role in maintaining the environment by stripping the carcasses of dead animals, which helps to reduce the spread of disease. They are nature’s clean-up crew.
They can generate sustainable income for local communities through ecotourism, but the species is facing an increasingly high risk of extinction, according to the Cambodia Vulture Working Group.