Endangered Duck Eggs Found in Preah Vihear Sanctuary

About 12 meters above the ground, inside the hollow of a Koki tree in Preah Vihear province, local villagers discovered the first nest of the globally endangered white-winged duck recorded in Cambodia’s northern plains in five years, a statement from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Cambodia said on Tuesday.

The nest, which held seven eggs, was found on Sunday in Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary. Three men walking to a rice field spotted one of the endangered birds on a tree and reported it to WCS, according to the statement and Alistair Mould, WCS’s technical adviser for the northern plains region.

A white-winged duck seen in Preah Vihear province’s Chhep Wildlife Sanctuary in 2007. (WCS Cambodia)

The greatest threats to the species’ riverine habitat were “selective logging for high-value Koki tree species (their favored nesting tree) and illegal fishing (electro-fishing and poisoning activities),” Mr. Mould said in an email.

The species—reported as endangered since 1994, according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species—has an estimated global population of 250 to 1,000, the statement said. There were believed to be 100 white-winged ducks in the country, according to 2007 reports, although WCS said little is currently known about present numbers in Cambodia.

Mr. Mould said the ducks prefer to nest in valuable Koki Msao trees, which are rated as first-grade timber.

The newly discovered nest will be monitored and protected daily by the three villagers who found it. They will be paid $3.50 a day each to watch over the nest, he said.

Preah Vihear provincial department of environment staff in both the Kulen Promtep sanctuary and Chhep Wildlife Sanctuary “work closely with community wildlife rangers employed by WCS to protect and monitor important river networks for white-winged ducks,” said Song Chansocheat, the department’s deputy director, in a message. Environment department rangers also conduct patrols of key breeding and feeding locations, he said.

The species’ endangered status made continued protection necessary to prevent its extinction, Rours Vann, research team leader in Kulen Promtep sanctuary, said in the statement.

“Nest and habitat protection are important to safeguard their lives and breeding. To avoid any disturbances and harms, we have hired those villagers to guard it,” he said.

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