61 vultures counted at Preah Vihear sanctuary

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
According to the 2020 census, there were at most 129 vultures in Cambodia. Yousos Apdoulrashim

Forest rangers have confirmed the presence of 61 rare and endangered vultures from three different species at the area of the Chheb Wildlife Sanctuary known as “vulture restaurant”.

The rangers spotted the birds while they were feeding on May 31. They counted 40 white-rumped vultures, two Carrion the torch vultures and 19 slender-billed vultures.

Environment ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said on June 10 that the ministry and its NGO partners had carried out a census of the vultures on June 9 in four separate natural protected locations spread across the provinces of Preah Vihear, Mondulkiri, Stung Treng and Ratanakkiri.

“Specialists are summing up the results of the vulture census and a report will be released soon,” he said, adding that the census was taken in conservation areas and will assist with making future plans to protect those locations with the aim of preserving biodiversity.

He continued that the census was carried out by a coalition of government and non-government stakeholders – the Cambodia Vulture Working Group; Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; Birdlife International; World Wildlife Fund Cambodia; Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity; Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS Cambodia) and the environment ministry.

He said that in Preah Vihear, the environment ministry officials and rangers worked with WCS Cambodia to feed the vultures there twice a month and guard their nests. They also hoped to create further awareness of the plight of the vultures and the challenges that they faced.

He added that from January to May vultures had been fed at the restaurant 10 times in an attempt to survey and track its population.

The ministry had cooperated with various international organisations to take five censuses a year.

According to the 2020 census, there were at most 129 vultures in Cambodia. They lived in a large flock and consumed animal carcasses for food. All three vulture species in Cambodia are rare and in danger of extinction, with their numbers continuing to decline at an alarming rate despite conservation efforts by the government and the environment ministry.

Pheaktra attributed the declining number of vultures in Cambodia to threats they faced from pollution, loss of habitat, shortages of food and poaching.