By Mengey Eng
| August 07, 2017
Preah Vihear (08 August 2017) – After one month of intensive protection by local community members participating in the Bird Nest protection scheme, conservationists from the Ministry of Environment (MoE), local communities and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) finally confirmed that the belongs to a female White-winged duck (IUCN Globally Endangered), which was re-released back into its natural habitat (Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary) in late 2015. This rare duck had received an individual identification ring during rehabilitation at the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB), which the conservationists were now able to identify and confirm by photograph.
On the 4th of July, a nest with seven eggs of the Globally Endangered White-winged Duck (Asarcornis scutulata) was detected within Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary. The three local villagers have since been hired by WCS to safeguard the nest, the first observed in five years within the Northern Plains Landscape, Preah Vihear province.
“I was delighted to see the ring on the bird’s right leg because I joined the release with the local community in December 2015 and still remember it,” said Rours Vann, Wildlife Research Team Leader in Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary between WCS and MoE. “The nest of this White-winged Duck has been protected very well by three local men, and the eggs should be hatching soon,” he added.
The White-winged Duck is listed on IUCN’s Red List for Threatened Species as Globally Endangered, primarily because its global population is in decline due to habitat loss, disturbance along key stretches of riverine habitat and illegal poaching. The global population of this enigmatic duck species is estimated to be between 250 – 1,000 individuals, while little is currently known about the numbers present in Cambodia.
“After receiving the information and images from the field, our team has double-checked the records and we are very certain that this is the duck, ACCB in collaboration with MoE and WCS released on 20th December 2015,” said Michael Meyerhoff, Project Manager at the ACCB. “We are so happy to see this duck again, because it shows that joint efforts between international organizations and government agencies to preserve endangered species are not only necessary, but can be very successful”, he emphasized.
The Northern Plains of Cambodia are home to many globally endangered bird species. Those include Critically Endangered Giant Ibis, White-shouldered Ibis, and three species of vulture, globally Endangered White-winged Duck, and many other important wildlife. WCS is working in collaboration with the MoE to conserve Northern Plains’ forests and wildlife through a variety of conservation interventions. The Bird Nest Protection Programme is a payments scheme designed to combat the threat of egg and chick collection. Under the scheme, local people living in two protected areas in the Northern Plains of Cambodia are offered conditional payments if they successfully locate, monitor and protect nests until fledging.
“This finding represents a remarkable conservation success in Northern Plains with the re-discovery, after 1.5 years, of this individual rare female duck in healthy breeding condition,” said Alistair Mould, WCS’s Technical Advisor to Northern Plains of Cambodia.
“This success would not be possible without important support and efforts from local communities and MoE’s wildlife sanctuary rangers committed to protecting forests and wildlife in the Northern Plains,” he added.
Nest protection in the Northern Plains of Cambodia would not be possible without supports from Akron Zoo, Sam Veasna Centre (SVC), the European Union, Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies (MACP).