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Cambodia launches awareness campaign on birds protection

PHNOM PENH, March 15 (Xinhua) — Cambodia raised public awareness on Thursday to help protect the threatened and endangered birds in the well-known Mekong River area.

The public awareness campaign was conducted by over 500 people from the provincial official, district authorities, local and international NGOs, as well as monks, teachers, and students through speeches, posters, banners, t-shirts, and question and answer competitions, to highlight the importance of the Mekong River between Cambodia’s Kratie and Steung Treng towns for the protection of threatened and endangered birds.

“This stretch of the Mekong is a biodiversity hotspot of international significance. It supports many globally important bird species including Greater and Lesser Adjutants, River Tern, and the critically endangered White-shouldered Ibis,” according to a statement released by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

“The latest population survey confirmed the presence of at least 124 white-shouldered Ibis in the area. This is the third largest population in Cambodia and probably the third largest in the world,” it said.

The site, Kratie and Steung Treng towns also provides critical habitat to many other species, which have become extremely rare or have virtually disappeared from the rest of Southeast Asia.

In February this year, a Red-headed Vulture was found nesting in the area. This exciting discovery was made by a research team from the Forestry Administration and WWF when they were conducting their monthly bird surveys and community awareness as part of the bird nest protection programme.

“We saw an adult in the nest and later confirmed it was sitting on eggs,” said Sok Ko, Government Official with Forestry Administration.

“This discovery is very important because previous surveys had not confirmed the species nesting at this site,” he said.

However, these species are under great pressure from human activities.

New settlements are being created and established villages are expanding.

Logging, clearance of riverbanks to create homes and rice paddies, illegal fishing, and wildlife trade threaten the survival of many rare species.

Mining activities both on the mainland and on islands in the Mekong River also destroy habitat and disturb nest sites.

However, WWF believes that local communities are eager to help protect these rare species.

“Local communities are eager to help protect the Mekong’s birds, fisheries, and other wetland resources, because they know their livelihood and wellbeing also depend on the conservation and management of this remarkable stretch of the Mekong River,” said Gordon Congdon, WWF’s Freshwater Programme Manager.

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