One hundred and fifteen Sarus Cranes have returned to Ang Trapeang Thmor Protected Landscape (ATTPL) in Banteay Meanchey province for feeding after their breeding season is over. These are the first of at least 350 Sarus Cranes that return to the site every year, making ATTPL the most important habitat for Sarus Crane. The cranes typically arrive in the ATTPL in January, and stay until late May, when they go to the Northern Plains and other sites across the country for breeding.
The Globally Vulnerable Sarus Crane (Grus antigone) is a large and elegant crane standing up to 180cm tall, making it the tallest flying bird in the world. Its estimated global population of 15,000 mature birds is declining due to degradation and destruction of wetland habitats, human exploitation and from the effects of pollutants and poisons. The population in Cambodia is only 800 birds, which is half of the global population of the Southeast Asian subspecies Grus Antigone sharpii.
ATTPL was created by Royal decree in 2000 and managed by Ministry of Environment with technical and financial support from WCS. This site protects 12,650 hectares of wetlands and dry forest. It supports half of Cambodia's Sarus Crane population during the non-breeding season, together with thousands of other waterbirds including storks, pelicans and ducks. ATTPL also supports a population of the Endangered Eld's Deer. These species and the beautiful wetlands attract thousands of tourists each year.
“Sarus Crane is a very important bird that tourists are interested and would like to watch when they visit ATTPL. Therefore, the arrival of those cranes means many tourists are also coming here in near future. Meanwhile, local communities will be able to generate extra income through food sale, tour guide, and budget for community development,” said Ngin Kamsan, ATTPL Project Coordinator.
“Local communities and conservationists at ATTPL are working together to protect those cranes and its natural habitat by increasing patrolling activities and educating other villagers,” he added.
In addition to providing critical habitat for Sarus Crane, waterbirds, and mammals, ATTPL is also an attractive ecotourism area where national and international guests can come and watch many waterbirds species and Endangered Eld’s Deer. In 2016, around 400 international and hundreds of thousands national visitors visited the ATTPL. This allows local communities to generate extra income to support their families, and boosts conservation efforts in the landscape.
These conservation activities in the NTSPL would not be possible without the generous support of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) and Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies.