Phnom Penh –Today marks the International Vulture Awareness Day with the message that vultures need all our help if they are to survive in Cambodia.
Vultures are masters of the air! Recent satellite tagging of vultures in Siem Pang Wildlife Sanctuary has revealed vultures fly at heights of 6 km, and by flying at up to 100 km/hour can commute between the vulture feeding stations in Chhep and Siem Pang Wildlife Sanctuaries with ease. However, there is more to the story.
Vultures play an important role in maintaining the environment by stripping the carcasses of dead animals, which helps to reduce the spread of disease. They are nature’s “clean-up crew”. But it is this that puts them in danger. Illegal use of carbofuran-based poisons can exterminate vulture populations. These dangerous chemicals should be restricted as they are dangerous to human health too. As a result, all three resident species of vulture in the dry forest landscape of the country are threatened with extinction. Cambodia represents the last hope for these species in the region, but here numbers have halved over the past ten years. Just one significant population remains, straddling the Mekong in Siem Pang Wildlife Sanctuary in Stung Treng Province and Chhep Wildlife Sanctuary in Preah Vihear Province.
“All Cambodians can be proud to still have vultures in the country but everyone needs to support their conservation efforts by protecting their habitats and especially by stopping wildlife poisoning. Otherwise Cambodia’s vultures will go extinct, as in the neighbouring countries of Thailand and Vietnam,” says Michael Meyerhoff, Country Director of ACCB.
The Cambodia Vulture Working Group is formed of NGOs, government and academic institute, with the aim of preventing the extinction of vultures in Cambodia. On International Vulture Awareness Day 2020, we join with vulture conservationists across the world to celebrate vultures.
“The conservation status of the three critically endangered vultures in Cambodia is highly concerning, carbamate pesticides pose a key risk to the survival of vultures but also to human health and livestock. WWF is advocating a ‘One Health’ approach linking the health of people, animals and our shared environment and urges this to be included in decision making on wildlife and land use change,” said Mr. Teak Seng, Country Director of WWF-Cambodia
The core member of CVWG comprises Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity, BirdLife International, Wildlife Conservation Society, WWF, Center for Biodiversity Conservation and the ordinary members comprise Cambodian Bird Guide Association, Nature Life Cambodia, Sam Veasna Conservation Tour and Center for Biodiversity Conservation of Royal University of Phnom Penh.