Bird conservation groups in Cambodia have detected a significant increase in the number of waterfowl nests in the Boeung Prek Lapouv Protected Landscape Area in Takeo province for this year.

BirdLife International Cambodia on November 14 said the increase in the bird population was determined by a bird nest census – a new surveillance technique carried out in waterfowl breeding locations in the protected area in 2020 and 2021.

The increase in nest numbers, the NGO said, indicates that the area is a very important habitat for waterfowl.

“This year, six species of waterfowl nests have been recorded, including 2,931 nests of Asian open bills, 285 nests of small water crows, 180 nests of black-crowned night herons, 32 nests of darters, 30 nests of grey herons and 22 nests of Purple Heron,” it said.

Boeung Prek Lapouv Protected Landscape deputy head Loem Vat told The Post that the increase was due to animal safety factors and the protection of habitats for the species.

“We have protected them from hunters and we have strived to protect their habitats. It means that we protect their nests and all flooded trees, so those animals have come to build their nests for eggs here,” he said.

He added that partner organisations are planting more flooded forest seedlings, such as freshwater mangrove which in time will become a forest where birds can live.

He said the increase also showed the dedication of working groups who had worked to protect the area, adding that this also helps promote eco-tourism.

“We are proud of Takeo province where we have protected all natural resources and attracted national and international visitors to this area, and the public have increasingly seen the Boeung Prek Lapouv Protected Landscape Area’s potential.

“Before the pandemic, this area attracted a lot of tourists. Foreign visitors from nearly 10 countries had visited here because the area is large and rich in bird species,” he said, adding that the establishment of the protected area was made many years ago, but the bird populations had just started to increase significantly from last year and this year.

The protected area was established by the government in 2016 on more than 8,000ha in the province to ensure the protection and preservation of natural beauty, ecosystem and biodiversity.

To ensure protection efforts, the Boeung Prek Lapouv Wetland Conservation and Management Project was set up and implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment, provincial environment department, BirdLife International Cambodia, NatureLife Cambodia and Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.