The Biodiversity working group of NatureLife Cambodia, in collaboration with local communities and Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary (LWS) rangers, has successfully located and safeguarded 13 nests of the white-shouldered ibis during the 2022-2023 breeding season.

Bou Vorsak, Cambodia programme manager at BirdLife International Cambodia, highlighted the significance of this annual undertaking, as the white-shouldered ibis is one of the most endangered species in Southeast Asia and requires continuous monitoring and protection to ensure successful fertilisation.

Out of the 13 nests discovered, eight hatched successfully, resulting in the birth of 13 chicks. These accomplishments were made possible through the combined efforts of NatureLife Cambodia, LWS rangers and local community members who joined forces to locate and safeguard the critically endangered species’ nests within the sanctuary.

Vorsak expressed optimism, noting that the number of nests in this breeding season has increased compared to the previous five seasons, signifying positive support for the life and reproduction of the white-shouldered ibis in the sanctuary.

While there has been progress, concerns remain regarding the number of failed nests. Many factors contributing to nest failures remain unknown, but human activities have been identified as a disruptor, causing the birds to abandon their nests.

Additionally, disturbances from predators like crows, hawks and civets also pose a significant threat to nest viability, according to Vorsak. In response, NatureLife Cambodia and rangers are conducting protection patrols and increasing awareness-raising activities to encourage local participation in safeguarding this endangered species in Cambodia. The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund and BirdLife-Vangard have played a vital role in supporting these conservation efforts.

Neth Pheaktra, secretary of state and spokesman for the Ministry of Environment, expressed appreciation for this positive news, acknowledging the dedicated work of conservationists in protecting and preserving wildlife, which has led to a continuous increase in the white-shouldered ibis population.

Pheaktra called on the public to collaborate with the ministry and partner organisations to safeguard natural resources and promote the growth of wildlife in Cambodia’s natural forests.

In a joint press release dated January 11, the ministry and partner organisations revealed that the global population of white-shouldered ibis stands at approximately 1,000 individuals. The 2022 nationwide census in Cambodia recorded 792 birds, accounting for 80 per cent of the world’s total. This data marks the fourth consecutive year of positive conservation results, despite some localised decreases, with the highest numbers recorded in Siem Pang Wildlife Sanctuary (377 birds) and the Mekong floodplains (326 birds).

Census efforts were also carried out in Koh Sralay, Kulen Promtep, Lomphat, Srepok and Phnom Prich wildlife sanctuaries.