Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - WWF: Mekong region river tern numbers ‘raises hope’

WWF: Mekong region river tern numbers ‘raises hope’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A total of river terns, along with three healthy chicks, have been recorded so far this year. WWF CAMBODIA

WWF: Mekong region river tern numbers ‘raises hope’

The number of river terns in the Mekong region increased to 71 birds this year, or nearly 130 per cent compared to the past seven years, the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) Cambodia has announced.

The recording of 71 birds and three healthy chicks so far this year suggests the Mekong population of river terns is recovering, WWF said on May 24.

“The Mekong population of river terns remains stable for the past two years with 71 birds along with three healthy chicks recorded in 2023, says a report this week by the WWF’s Mekong Flooded Forest team on bird nest surveys conducted between February and April.

“This number represents an increase of almost 130 per cent compared with the survey results obtained around seven years ago, with a rise from only 31 birds in 2016 to 71 individuals this year.

“The birds and hatchlings are currently occupying 31 nests, which are under safeguard by the local communities living adjacent to the habitat areas along the Mekong in Kratie and Stung Treng provinces,” WWF said.

The WWF said the increase in river tern numbers was a reason for optimism.

“The current survey result is evidence that the river tern population has started to recover, raising hope for the species’ conservation in Cambodia and the world.

“In Cambodia, the bird’s population had suffered serious decline, with a more than 80 per cent decrease during the past 20 years, mainly due to human activities.

“Uplisted to Vulnerable on the IUCN’s Red List, the river tern is one of the rare bird species in South East Asia,” it said.

Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said that as a conservationist, he was excited about the increasing numbers in Cambodia of such a rare species as the river tern.

“River tern numbers had suffered in the past due to human activities in their habitat such as hunting and the use of snares.

“The increasing number of river terns is partly due to the participation in of local people in conservation efforts as they understand the importance of protecting rare species, as well as efforts in protecting the river tern’s habitat for them to reproduce successfully,” he said.

Pheaktra called on all people, and especially those living along the river, to maintain efforts to conserve the Mekong’s bird species to make the area even more attractive to tourists.

The Ministry of Environment has said the main threats to the river tern include people collecting their eggs, a shortage of the fish species they feed on, and the vulnerability of their eggs and chicks to predatory birds and snakes.

Rising and falling water levels of the Sesan River due to dams in Vietnam was also a major threat as river terns spawned in the river’s muddy banks when water levels receded, it said.

Facing such challenges, conservationists have called for stronger conservation efforts from all stakeholders to protect the river tern from becoming extinct in Cambodia.


  • Ream base allegations must end, urges official

    A senior government official urges an end to the allegations and suspicions surrounding the development of Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base, now that Prime Minister Hun Manet has addressed the issue on the floor of the 78th UN General Assembly (UNGA 78). Jean-Francois Tain, a geopolitical

  • Ministry taking steps over Thai ‘replica’ of Angkor Wat

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has dispatched experts to inspect the ongoing construction of a temple in Wat Phu Man Fah, located in Thailand’s Buriram province. This temple appears to be a replica of Cambodia’s renowned Angkor Wat. The ministry said

  • CP denied registration documents by ministry

    The Ministry of Interior will not reissue registration documents to the Candlelight Party (CP). Following a September 21 meeting between ministry secretary of state Bun Honn and CP representatives, the ministry cited the fact that there is no relevant law which would authorise it to do

  • PM to open new Siem Reap int’l airport December 1

    Prime Minister Hun Manet and Chinese leaders would jointly participate in the official opening of the new Chinese-invested Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport on December 1. The airport symbolises a new page in the history of Cambodian aviation, which will be able to welcome long-distance flights to

  • Minimum wage set at $204, after Sep 28 vote

    The minimum wage for factory workers in the garment, footwear and travel goods industries for 2024 has been decided at $204 per month, with the government contributing $2. Following several negotiation sessions, the tripartite talks reached an agreement during a September 28 vote, with 46 of 51 votes supporting the $202 figure.

  • Cambodian diaspora laud Manet’s UN Assembly visit

    Members of the Cambodian diaspora are rallying in support of Prime Minister Hun Manet’s forthcoming visit to the 78th UN General Assembly (UNGA 78) in the US’ New York City this week. Their move is an apparent response to a recent call by self-exiled former