By Mengey Eng
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| September 25, 2017
Mondulkiri (26 September 2017) – A nest and two chicks of the Critically Endangered Giant Ibis have been found in Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary (KSWS) for the first time, Ministry of Environment (MoE) and WCS’s research team reveals. This finding makes KSWS one of the few remaining breeding sites for the species in Cambodia.
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.
“After finding two pairs of Critically Endangered Giant Ibis in late August, our team continued searching for the species and its nest, because we know KSWS is a very good natural habitat and ideal for their feeding and breeding,” said Sot Vandoeun, WCS’s Wildlife Research and Monitoring Team Leader in KSWS.
“As expected, we finally found a nest of Giant Ibis with two chicks. They are healthy and living in a safe place. We are proud of the finding because we can prove KSWS is also a breeding area for Giant Ibis in Cambodia,” 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 bird 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.
“This finding confirms once again that KSWS is important biodiversity hotspot and vital for conservation of globally threatened wildlife,” said Olly Griffin, WCS’s Conservation Operations Technical Advisor. “WCS and MoE have had great success with Giant Ibis nest protection in the Northern Plains of Cambodia, and we will replicate that within KSWS.”
“Strengthening law enforcement and encouraging community participation are critical to ensure Cambodia’s unique wildlife remains in KSWS. All Cambodians also play a key role in conserving wildlife by refusing to buy and eat wild meat. Wild meat consumption is bad for health,” said Tan Setha, WCS’s Technical Advisor to KSWS.
Effective management of KSWS 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).