A recent vulture census identified 131 vultures in three of the Kingdom’s conservation areas. The figure is very similar to the one recorded in 2022, and overall the census was a success, said a senior official from the Ministry of Environment.

Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said on June 14 that vulture conservationists in Cambodia had completed the second round of the annual census programme of vultures in the wild, as part of their efforts to protect and care for the vultures.

Five censuses are taken each year by NatureLife Cambodia. During the June 9 census, 131 vultures were recorded. 12 red-headed vultures (Sarcogyps calvus) were recorded, along with 77 white-rumped vultures (Gyps bengalensis) and 42 slender-billed vultures (Gyps tenuirostris).

“This vulture census was conducted in the three conservation areas, Siem Pang Wildlife Sanctuary in Stung Treng province was home to 93 vultures (31 slender-billed, 56 white-rumped vultures and six red-headed), while 31 (16 white-rumped, 11 slender-billed vultures and four red-headed) were found at Chheb Wildlife Sanctuary in Preah Vihear. Seven vultures (five white-rumped and two red-headed) were found in the Mekong flooded forest,” said Pheaktra.

Ny Nayky of NatureLife said a third census will be conducted this month, followed by a fourth in September and a fifth in December.

“We will collate the total census results before determining the 2023 population,” she added.

Pheaktra said the 2022 census totalled 134 individual birds – and increase of 13 over the 121 that were counted in 2021, noting that this was good news for biodiversity in Cambodia and the world alike.

“The outcome of this census shows that the efforts of conservationists and the ministry are having a positive effect on the Kingdom’s vulture population. However, it is still necessary to increase the attention paid to protecting and conserving these rare species,” he added.

Pheaktra requested that all relevant stakeholders join the environment ministry in protecting the vultures and their habitats by eliminating pollution, ending trapping and poaching and ceasing any other human activities that may affect these precious natural heritage treasures.