By Mengey Eng
| March 05, 2018
Preah Vihear (March 05, 2018) – Six White-shouldered Ibis (Pseudibis davisoni) nests have been found in Tmatbouy village in Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary so far this year by conservationists from Ministry of Environment (MoE), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and Tmatbouy Community Protected Area ecotourism sub-committee. Safeguarding the white-shouldered ibis nests are a key step forward in protecting this species from extinction.
The Tmatbouy ibis nest monitoring is paid for through a Village Development Fund (VDF) raised through eco-tourism activities conducted in collaboration with WCS partner, Sam Veasna Centre (SVC). Tourists who successfully see the ibises pay extra fee into VDF, which is managed by the ecotourism sub-committee. This is providing sustainable finance for the conservation of one of Cambodia’s most enigmatic, charismatic and threatened birds.
“We are very excited to find the white-shouldered ibis nests because they are target species for birding tourists who visit Tmatbouy. Most community members have a high level of understanding regarding the importance of wildlife protection for the success of the ecotourism project,” said Dep Kimon, Head of Tmatbouy Community Protected Area ecotourism sub-committee.
“Since 2013, on average 240 tourists have visited Tmatbouy every year to observe the white-shouldered and giant ibises, and other birds. Their presence is very important in allowing us to generate extra income to support our livelihoods and build the VDF. We are committed to protect them because they offer hope that we can generate long-term sustainable income from wildlife conservation,” he added.
The white-shouldered ibis is listed on the IUCN’s Red List as Critically Endangered and they persist only in Cambodia, Lao People's Democratic Republic and Indonesia. Cambodia hosts the majority of the global population, where breeding populations now remain in the northern and eastern regions of the country. Populations of this species have declined significantly over the past 100 years and now there are estimated to be less than 1,000 individuals remaining globally. The Tmatbouy forests are home to approximately 50 white-shouldered ibis, 5% of the global population. However, land clearance, logging, hunting and poisoning continue to put the species at high risk.
“The forests around Tmatbouy village are a very important habitat for the breeding of giant and white-shouldered ibises in Cambodia. Community awareness and participation are key for conservation success,” said Rours Vann, Wildlife Research Team Leader for WCS and MoE.
Nest protection in the Northern Plains of Cambodia has been made possible with support from Sam Veasna Centre (SVC), the European Union, Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies (MACP).