Throughout their distribution white-winged duck populations have been undergoing a very rapid and continuing decline as a result of disturbance and loss of crucially important riverine habitats. Currently listed on the IUCN Red List as Globally Endangered, their small and very fragmented global population of around 1000 individuals is spread across India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia (around 100). White-winged duck rely on undisturbed riverine habitats, nesting high up above the forest floor in tree holes or crevasses of tall mature trees which are often targeted for the illegal timber trade.
On 22nd June, WCS and Preah Vihear Department of Environment worked in partnership with the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB), wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center to release 1 male white-winged duck at a trapeang (natural waterhole) in the Tiel village area of Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary. The release was facilitated by the Tiel village Community Protected Area (CPA) committee. This white-winged duck was rescued from the same area on 2nd November 2017 after community members found it on the ground and at risk of attack by domestic dogs. Due to the quick action by the community members, WCS and DoE were able to notify ACCB who rapidly deployed their team to rescue the animal and take it to their rehabilitation center at Phnom Kulen National Park (Siem Reap province). The bird was ready for release after a 2-month rehabilitation period, but the release had to be postponed until the raining season was in full swing to ensure optimum food availability. The release demonstrates the important role that wildlife rescue can play in ensuring that animals taken illegally from the wild can be returned to their natural habitat. A minimum of 19 white-winged ducks are known to exist in both Kulen Promtep and Chhep Wildlife Sanctuaries, and the release of this male will support the long-term viability of this population in the future.
WCS’s white-winged duck conservation activities in the Northern Plains Landscape are implemented in partnership with the Preah Vihear Department of Environment, Sansom Mlup Prey (SMP), and Sam Veasna Center (SVC) with funding from Agence Française de Développement (AFD), MacArthur Foundation, Margret A. Cargill Foundation, Mekong Regional Land Governance (MRLG) project, Darwin Initiative, US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Arcus Foundation, and Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF).