Residents of Stung Treng province’s Siem Bok district spotted the first-ever Giant Ibis nesting in the area last month, a find that the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said Monday gives hope to the critically endangered bird.
“The discovery of the Giant Ibis nest on the Mekong is extremely significant because it provides hope for the species’ survival,” Sok Ko, a forestry administration official with the WWF who specializes in the protection of bird nests, was quoted as saying in a statement.
Krech Poeun, a 36-year-old farmer from O’Mreas commune’s O’Chralang village reported the sighting to Mr. Ko and his team, who then went to the village and confirmed that an adult Giant Ibis, Cambodia’s national bird, was sitting on two eggs, the statement says.
The Giant Ibis, which used to be common in Southeast Asia, has been hunted to the brink of extinction and was enlisted as a critically endangered species in 1994, WWF communications officer Pao Roatana said.
“They are now almost exclusive in Cambodia—with just a few birds in Southern Laos and Vietnam,” Mr. Roatana said, adding that estimates put the population at fewer than 350 birds.
In April, the government officially designated the Mekong Flooded Forest—where the Giant Ibis nest was spotted—a conservation site.
“Without the local community’s understanding about the importance of conservation and their participation, the bird nest would have been destroyed and the bird would have been poached,” Mr. Ko said.
Poachers and deforestation remain two of the biggest threats to the species, Mr. Roatana said.
“[The population] is also expected to continue to decline because these threats remain—hunting is still a problem in many places, and forest continues to be cleared,” Mr. Roatana said.
© 2013, The Cambodia Daily. All rights reserved No part of this article may be reproduced in print, electronically, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without written permission.