Two critically endangered giant ibis chicks have been found for the first time in Mondulkiri province’s Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary.
The chicks were discovered by members of a Wildlife Conservation Society and Ministry of Environment research team.
Research team leader Sot Vandoeun said environmentalists had been searching for the species since finding two pairs of giant ibis last month – the first to be seen in the sanctuary for ten years.
He said his team expanded their search to look for nests, because Keo Seima is a good natural habitat for the bird and ideal for breeding.
“As expected, we finally found a giant ibis nest with two chicks. They are healthy and living in a safe place,” Mr Vandoeun said.
He added he was proud of the discovery because it proves the sanctuary is another breeding area for the giant ibis in Cambodia.
Preah Vihear’s Kulen Promtep and Chhep wildlife sanctuaries are the natural habitat of most of the country’s giant ibis. Early last month, 19 nests were found in these sanctuaries, home to about 150 of the birds.
The giant ibis is listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.
Cambodia has about 99 percent of the global population, estimated at 149 mature individuals, making it the most important country in the world for giant ibis conservation.
Olly Griffin, WCS’s conservation operations technical advisor, said the discovery confirms once again that Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary is an important biodiversity hotspot and vital for the conservation of globally threatened wildlife.
“WCS and the Ministry of Environment have had great success with giant ibis nest protection in the Northern Plains of Cambodia and we will replicate that within Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary,” he added.
Under an Environment Ministry and WCS programme which started in 2002, community members are hired to guard nests until the eggs hatch to protect them from predators or poachers.
Tan Setha, WCS’s Technical Advisor to the sanctuary, said that strengthening law enforcement and encouraging community participation are critical to ensure Cambodia’s unique wildlife remains.
“All Cambodians also play a key role in conserving wildlife by refusing to buy and eat wild meat,” Mr Setha said, adding that wild meat consumption is bad for people’s health.
Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary is also of international importance for the conservation of primates, including the world’s largest known populations of black-shanked douc langur and southern yellow-cheeked crested gibbon.