High res photo here
In response to the widespread collection of eggs and chicks, which threatened large waterbirds in the early 2000’s, a program was established to directly pay community members to ensure key bird nesting sites were protected. Under the scheme, local people living Chhep Wildlife Sanctuary (CWS) and Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary (KPWS) are offered conditional payments if they successfully locate, monitor and protect nests until fledging.
“Nest protection has reduced threats from egg collection, nest disturbance and logging,” said Rours Vann, WCS’s Wildlife Monitoring Team Leader in KPWS. “The success of the program has been closely linked to our research into the ecology of key bird species and strong working relationships with local communities. When communities have the opportunity to obtain socio-economic benefits from their wildlife assets, they are more motivated to protect them.”
Target species of the program include Giant Ibis (Cambodia’s National Bird), White-shouldered Ibis, White-rumped Vulture, Red-headed Vulture, Greater and Lesser Adjutants, Oriental Darter, Black-necked Stork, Sarus Crane, White-winged Duck and Masked Finfoot.
The Northern Plains of Cambodia consists of Kulen Promtep, Chhep and Prey Preah Roka Wildlife Sanctuaries. In recent years, the primary threat to globally threatened bird species in the landscape has shifted from egg collection to habitat loss. Those include land clearance, economic development pressure and illegal logging of large, high-value timber species, which are favored by large waterbirds for nesting.
“The nest protection program is a component of our broader landscape-scale conservation approach in the Northern Plains,” said Ken Sereyrotha, WCS’s Country Program Director. “This involves working closely with our government, community and NGO partners to establish and manage protected areas, develop land-use zoning plans and enhance wildlife-friendly livelihoods.”
WCS’s nest protection in Cambodia’s Northern Plains is supported by the Sam Veasna Centre, the European Union, Agence Française de Développement, and Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies.