By Mengey Eng
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| July 27, 2017
Battambang (27 July 2017) – Endangered Greater Adjutant chicks have successfully fledged from 175 nests in the Prek Toal Ramsar Site in Cambodia and disbursed across the country. The nests were protected for six months by conservationists from Cambodia’s Ministry of Environment (MoE), Prek Toal village, and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
The Greater Adjutant (Leptoptilos dubius) is the largest stork species in the world, reaching 1.5 meters in height, and is listed on the IUCN Red List as Endangered. An estimated 800-1,000 mature individuals exist globally and 150-200 pairs live in Prek Toal, the only known breeding site in Southeast Asia.
“I am proud of working with my team to conserve this rare bird and am happy to see greater adjutants and other important waterbirds living and breeding safely here,” said Chhan Chhoum, former egg collector and now a nest protector. “Local people in Prek Toal recognize the importance of waterbird conservation and the fact that these birds are providing a sustainable source of income through ecotourism.”
Prek Toal is home to the world’s second largest Greater Adjutant breeding colony after that in Assam, India. The site is the premier freshwater wetland area on the Tonle Sap Great Lake, and is well known for its incredible biological, social and economic resources. In October 2015, Prek Toal was designated a Ramsar Site due to its global significance for conservation.
WCS has been working with the MoE to conserve Prek Toal’s flooded forests and biodiversity for nearly 20 years. This program began with the recruitment of 20 rangers and other local community members (half of whom at one point illegally collected eggs for food and sales), to serve as nest protectors. Most of those original recruits are still working for the project today.
“Prek Toal is the most important habitat for waterbirds in Cambodia. Over 130 waterbird species live and breed in this area,” said Sun Visal, Waterbirds Monitoring and Research Team Leader with WCS and MoE at the Prek Toal Ramsar Site.
“I would urge all local communities, authorities at all levels and development partners to continue cooperation and support of conservation activities in Prek Toal to safeguard its priceless waterbirds and natural habitat,” he added.
WCS conservation efforts in Prek Toal are supported by Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund. The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the MacArthur Foundation, and the World Bank. A fundamental goal is to ensure civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation.