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Fires burn large parts of Battambang forest

A forest fire that has destroyed endangered birds' breeding sites rages in Battambang province's Prek Toal protected area. WCS Cambodia
A forest fire that has destroyed endangered birds' breeding sites rages in Battambang province's Prek Toal protected area. WCS Cambodia

Fires burn large parts of Battambang forest

Fires have consumed more than 2,000 hectares of Prek Toal protected area in Battambang, killing some animals and destroying the breeding sites of multiple endangered species, Prek Toal project managers said yesterday.

The fire began in early April and spread into the area last week, destroying 10 per cent of the protected forest.

“Nine main trees where painted storks, lesser adjutants and sarus cranes breed were burned down, but none of those birds were found dead yet,” said Long Kheng, an environmental officer in Prek Toal.

The forest fire was caused by fishermen, who built a fire to cook and carelessly forgot to put it out, and by hunters who burn forest to catch wildlife, he added.

Ross Sinclair, WCS Cambodia’s country program director, said Prek Toal is the most significant breeding stronghold in mainland Southeast Asia for many globally threatened bird species.

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