By Mengey Eng
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| March 27, 2018
Preah Vihear (27 March 2018) – Endangered wildlife in the Northern Plains of Cambodia are facing a continued threat from the widespread use of pesticides to poison natural waterholes (trapeang). A number of waterhole poisoning incidents have been documented since the start of 2018. These have resulted in the intentional killing of wild and domestic animals such as birds and cattle. WCS is concerned that this illegal activity will impact efforts to protect some of the last remaining populations of 3 critically endangered vulture species.
Over 2015 and 2016, WCS’s Wildlife Health Program worked alongside Royal Government of Cambodia and NGO partners to train and support a wildlife mortality surveillance network in Preah Vihear, Stung Treng and Mondulkiri provinces. Community research and law enforcement teams subsequently documented a series of wildlife mortality cases in Kulen Promtep, Chhep and Siem Pang Wildlife Sanctuaries. Wildlife found dead in waterholes by the rangers included the Critically Endangered Slender-billed Vulture as well as the Large-spotted Civet and Woolly-necked Stork.
“Communities across the Northern Plains are known to use termite poison as a low-cost method to kill wildlife as a source of food but also to protect rice fields from birds such as doves and parakeets. Occasionally, this activity can also lead to the killing of domestic animals such as cattle, chickens and dogs.” said Mao Khean, WCS’s Biodiversity Research Project Coordinator for the Northern Plains.
The Northern Plains Landscape consists of Kulen Promtep, Chhep and Prey Preah Roka Wildlife Sanctuaries and it supports nearly 300 bird species. These include five critically endangered species: the giant ibis (Cambodia’s national bird), white-shouldered ibis, and the white-rumped, slender-billed, and red-headed vultures.
“The use of poisons to kill wildlife in the Northern Plains and other areas of the country has the potential to cause irreversible impacts on globally threatened bird and mammal populations. We are currently working in partnership with researchers from the University of Edinburgh in the UK to better understand the social and economic drivers of the poisoning issue” said Ken Sereyrotha, WCS’s Country Program Director.
“We call on the general public to stop consuming wild meat so that we can protect our priceless wildlife. Consumption of poisoned animals carries substantial short and long term health risks,” he added.