Officials and community members in the Tuol Porn Taley Boeung Sne conservation area in Prey Veng province’s Ba Phnom district said that although no birds have been found dead in the last week, they will continue to work together to collect any they can find. The carcasses are burnt to prevent the possible transmission of diseases to humans or animals in their communities.

Nuon Sareth, deputy chief of the area’s conservation community, told The Post on April 18 that following heavy rains before the Khmer New Year holiday, the atmosphere in the conservation area seemed to have improved a bit, with no more dead birds discovered in the past week.

“The last time our team inspected the conservation area and searched for bird carcasses, we did not find even a single one,” he said.

He added that the community committee had cooperated with environmental rangers in the province and a team from the Wildlife Conservation Society Cambodia (WCS Cambodia) to find and collect dead birds in the fields and forest three days a week. The work came after his team started finding dead birds regularly, in March.

Prak Phally, a member of the community committee, told The Post that on March 9 community members had found more than 10 dead birds, and the next day they found between 10 and 20. None had been discovered in the last week.

“In 2022, more than 600 birds have been found dead in the forests, fields and lakes of the conservation area, but we still have not established a cause of death,” he added.

Provincial Department of Environment director Toch Varotha told The Post that the team had taken samples of the dead birds – and water from the places where they were found – for testing, but results have not yet been provided by the laboratory. As an immediate measure, officials, along with community members, had collected the dead animals and disposed of them every day.

He also added that after the recent heavy rains, neither officials nor community members had found any more carcasses.

“Officials initially concluded that in all likelihood, there were two factors causing the deaths. The first was aging and the other was extreme temperatures. When ground temperatures are high, this can lead to the death of many species of bird,” he said.

He added that the Tuol Porn Taley Boeung Sne conservation area currently has a population of between three and four million birds, the majority of which are Asian open bills.