Cambodia’s population of Bengal florican has sharply declined since 2012 according to a recent survey conducted by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Cambodia’s and Ministry of Environment.

The findings, which were recently published in the journal Bird Conservation International, showed that the population of Bengal florican in Southeast Asia has declined by 55 percent since 2012.

Conservationists now estimate that the number of displaying males in 2018 was only 104, down from 216 in 2012. Displaying males were found at only 4 sites, down from 10 in 2012.

The Bengal florican is considered Critically Endangered by IUCN. The subspecies Houbaropsis bengalensis blandini is now almost entirely restricted to the Tonle Sap Floodplain, Cambodia. WCS and the Ministry of Environment (MoE) monitor 80 percent of the population each year, but this is only the third time that the whole population has been surveyed. The total population of adult Bengal Floricans in Cambodia in 2018 was estimated at 138. Males outnumber females 3:1.

There was some good news, however. The survey indicated that the population was stable at Stoung-Chikreang in the Northern Tonle Sap Protected Landscape where community-based conservation implemented by Ministry of Environment is supported by WCS.

Hong Chamnan, Deputy Director at the Department of Freshwater Wetlands Conservation, Ministry of Environment said: “Our Bengal florican conservation at Stoung-Chikreang has been a big success; credit goes to the Department of Freshwater Wetlands Conservation, Kompong Thom Provincial Department of Environment and the Community Management Committees. We have started to replicate our successful program at Baray, which is also vital for Bengal Florican conservation.”

Sum Phearun, Technical Advisor at WCS said: “We need to do everything we can to save the Bengal Florican in Cambodia. Protecting inundated natural grassland in the Tonle Sap floodplains is the key action to ensure species recovery and its long-term survival.”

WCS’s work to protect Bengal floricans is supported by Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies, Fondation Ensemble, Samson Mlup Prey, and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund. The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, and the World Bank. A fundamental goal is to ensure civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation. WCS also thanks the MOE, Kampong Thom and Siem Reap provincial authorities, and Kampong Thom and Siem Reap Departments of Environment for their strong cooperation in conserving the Bengal floricans.