The Phnom Penh Post

New vulture census to determine birds’numbers

- Voun Dara

THE vulture census conducted by the Ministry of Environmen­t and partner organisati­ons on June 9 recorded 82 vultures in protected areas in the provinces of Preah Vihear, Mondulkiri, Stung Treng and Kratie, according to ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra.

Pheaktra said on June 12 that the census will be conducted five more times to determine whether vulture numbers are increasing or decreasing.

The results reveal that there are 13 red-headed vultures (Sarcogypsc­alvus), 42 white-rumped vultures (Gyps bengalensi­s) and 27 slender-billed vultures (Gyps tenuirostr­is).

Bird feeding stations at the so-called vulture restaurant recorded 23 vultures in Preah Vihear province, 52 in Stung Treng and seven in Kratie, but no sightings were recorded in Mondulkiri.

“The ministry’s technical working group and partner organisati­ons have scheduled five more national censuses to determine whether the endangered vulture population is increasing or decreasing. The censuses will be on June 20, September 10 and 20, and December 10 and 20,” he said.

He said Cambodia’s annual vulture census surveys biodiversi­ty in protected areas to understand what wildlife is present and facilitate planning, protection and conservati­on. It is aimed at preserving the Kingdom’s biodiversi­ty.

The census was conducted by collecting data from four different locations at the same time of day to make sure that the number of vultures did not feed in different places.

According to Pheaktra, the results of the nationwide vulture census in 2020 showed the highest number of vultures at 129.

The birds live in groups and eat carcasses, and humans are vultures’ biggest threat through pollution, habitat loss, and hunting.

“Some communitie­s have used poison in or near ponds to catch birds and other animals. This is a major cause of death for vultures as the birds ate poisoned carcasses,” he said.

Wildlife Conservati­on Society (WCS Cambodia) country director Ken Serey Rotha said that from January to May, WCS Cambodia organised additional feeding stations by establishi­ng 10 vulture restaurant­s to monitor their numbers. The most endangered vulture species in Cambodia are white-rumped vultures (Gyps bengalensi­s), the red-headed vultures (Sarcogypsc­alvus) and the slender-billed vulture (Gyps tenuirostr­is).

“WCS, in collaborat­ion with the environmen­t ministry, is implementi­ng conservati­on activities in protected areas through supplement­ary feeding and nest protection, developing a deeper understand­ing of vulture risk factors in Preah Vihear province,” Rotha said.

He said WCS is currently implementi­ng four biodiversi­ty conservati­on projects in four protected areas, including Kulen Promtep, Chheb and Prey Preah Roka wildlife sanctuarie­s, and the Phnom Tbeng Natural Heritage Park in Preah Vihear province, covering a total area of more than half a million hectares.

These areas support the livelihood­s of nearly 10,000 indigenous families and are home to threatened wildlife. More than 30 species of Asian elephants and the endangered birds such as vultures can be found here.

The vulture census in Cambodia was carried out by the Cambodian Vulture Working Group in collaborat­ion with the environmen­t ministry, the Ministry of Agricultur­e, Forestry and Fisheries, Birdlife Internatio­nal, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF Cambodia) and the Angkor Centre for Conservati­on of Biodiversi­ty and WCS Cambodia.

 ?? YOUSOS APDOULRASH­IM ?? Vultures feed on a carcass at a sanctuary in Preah Vihear province.
YOUSOS APDOULRASH­IM Vultures feed on a carcass at a sanctuary in Preah Vihear province.

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