By Mengey Eng
| August 30, 2017
Mondulkiri (31 August 2017) - Two pairs of the Critically Endangered Giant Ibis have been found in Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary (KSWS), the WCS and MoE Wildlife Monitoring Team confirms. These are the first seen at the site in ten years. This finding confirms once again that KSWS is a biodiversity hotspot and vital for conservation of globally threatened mammal and bird species.
Giant Ibis (Thaumatibis gigantea), Cambodia’s national bird, is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. The species now occurs only in Cambodia, with very few recent records from Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Vietnam. Cambodia has around 99 percent of the global population, estimated at 194 mature individuals, making it the most important country in the world for Giant Ibis conservation.
“We are proud of finding these Giant Ibises because now we can prove they are living in KSWS. Old reports mentioned about this species in KSWS, but we haven’t found them for about 10 years,” said Sot Vandoeun, who leads Wildlife Research and Monitoring team and found the Giant Ibis in KSWS.
“After spending almost fifteen days searching, we are sure they are living in KSWS. The area they live is a very good natural habitat and is ideal for their feeding and breeding. We will continue searching for more Giant Ibises and their nests in the KSWS because it is their breeding period now. We will work with local communities and rangers to protect their nests if we find them,” he added.
KSWS is 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), various species of wild cat, Asian Elephant, Gaur, Banteng and several species of birds including Green Peafowl. However, these important species are under threat due to illegal poaching and habitat loss, which requires strong protection to secure them and their habitat.
“Strengthening law enforcement and encouraging community participation are critical to ensure Cambodia’s unique wildlife remain in KSWS. All Cambodians also play a key role in conserving wildlife by refusing to buy and eat wild meat,” Tan Setha, WCS’s Technical Advisor to KSWS.
The Keo Seima conservation project would not be possible without the support of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Fonds Français pour l'Environnement Mondial (FFEM), and European Union (EU).