Newswise — The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Ministry of Environment (MoE) announced today that after five weeks of active nest protection by community members, three Black-necked stork chicks have hatched in Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary (KPWS) in the Northern Plains of Cambodia, giving hope to the future conservation of this rare species in the country.
The Black-necked stork (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus) is a very rare bird species in Asia and is listed on the IUCN Red List as Near Threatened. An estimated 15,000 to 35,000 individuals exist globally, with the vast majority of them in Australia. Less than 10 pairs are known to exist in Cambodia, the only country in Southeast Asia where the bird is regularly recorded.
“We are happy to see these three Black-necked stork chicks because they are a rare bird, not often seen in the forest,” said Yoeun Yerb, a WCS-supported nest protector, who found the nest with a fellow villager in Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary. “We achieved our goal of guarding the nest and strongly hope that others will help to safeguard this species.”
The Bird Nest Protection Programme in the Northern Plains of Cambodia is a payment structure designed to combat the threat of egg and chick collection. Under the scheme, local people living in two protected areas are offered conditional payments if they successfully locate, monitor and protect nests until the birds fledge.
Rours Vann, Wildlife Research Team Leader in KPWS for WCS and MoE said, “The Black-necked stork is a very rare bird in Cambodia. They have a widespread distribution but with a small population. If we do not conserve them, they will disappear in the near future.”
The Northern Plains of Cambodia consists of KPWS, Prey Preah Roka Wildlife Sanctuary and Chhep Wildlife Sanctuary. WCS and the MoE pay local community members to protect the nests of these birds that are under particular threat from egg collection and predation. By incentivizing the conservation of threatened species such as the Black-necked stork, local people who once collected these eggs for food now protect these rare and beautiful birds.
“Northern Plains of Cambodia is home to 57 globally threatened mammal species and 300 bird species,” said Song Chansocheat, Deputy Director of Environment in Preah Vihear Province. “Protecting this unique landscape is needed to ensure continued breeding and the survival of the species in Cambodia. Everyone can help conserve our priceless wildlife by not buying or eating their meat or eggs,” he added.
Nest protection in the Northern Plains of Cambodia is supported by Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies, the Sam Veasna Centre, the European Union, and Agence Française de Développement.