Preah Vihear, Cambodia – Today the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), in partnership with the Ministry of Environment (MoE), the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB), Sam Veasna Center for Wildlife Conservation (SVC), and Tmatboey Community Eco-tourism Centre released a Critically Endangered White-shouldered Ibis, along with three Spotted Wood-owls, two Crested Serpent-eagles, and one Brown Fish-owl. The seven birds were released back into Tmatboey Community Protected Area in Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary (KPWS), where they were rescued by local community members.
In May this year, a juvenile white-shouldered ibis was found by local community members from Tmatboey Community Protected Area, the bird was very weak and unable to fly. It was brought to ACCB in Siem Reap province for rehabilitation before being released back into KPWS.
“The White-shouldered Ibis was underweight when it arrived at ACCB and was kept behind the scenes to minimize human interaction. It was fed on insects, fish and frogs until it had gained enough weight and strength, to be able to fly and fend for itself,” said Mr. Michael Meyerhoff, Curator at Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity.
“As soon as the ibis had gained sufficient weight and was flying strongly we coordinated closely with WCS to find a suitable location for its release, near to where it was originally found, We released it near a Trapeang in an area of forest that would provide the bird with food and shelter,” added Michael.
The White-shouldered Ibis has been described as the most threatened large waterbirds in South-East Asia. Breeding pairs of white-shouldered ibis in KPWS form part of their last stronghold, with breeding populations now being confined to northern and eastern Cambodia.
“Without the support from local community members and ACCB, we would not have been able to rescue this White-shouldered Ibis and these six other birds. It is of credit to the Eco-tourism committee of Tmatboey that such birds are now valued more to the community when they are alive and healthy. To me, this shows the power of Eco-tourism to conservation” said Mr. Stefan Harrison, WCS’s Biodiversity and Monitoring Technical Advisor in the Northern Plains of Cambodia.
“In the Northern Plains, WCS, in partnership with the MoE and local communities have been working tirelessly to conserve many endangered species and habitats over the past 16 years through various activities, including awareness raising and local livelihood improvement,” Stefan added.
Notes to Editor
The four owls were found by Tmatboey community members after having fledged prematurely. The fledglings were found on the ground unable to fly and, because they were found close to the village, the risk of predation by domestic dogs warranted their capture and rehabilitation until they were strong enough to fly and feed themselves. The two crested serpent-eagles were rescued after they had been captured for the illegal pet trade. Their wings had been clipped so they had to remain at ACCB for several months until their flight feathers had fully regrown.
KPWS is characterised by a mosaic habitat of deciduous dipterocarp forest, riverine semi-evergreen forest and Trapeangs that provide foraging and nesting habitat, essential for the survival of the White-shouldered Ibis.