Endangered Birds Take Flight
Seven critically endangered birds, including one of the most threatened in Southeast Asia, the White-shouldered Ibis, were released into the Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary’s Tmatboey Community Protected Area yesterday after being reared in captivity.
According to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the society, in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, the Angkor Center for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB) and the Tmatboey Community Eco-tourism Center, released an endangered White-shouldered Ibis along with three Spotted Wood-owls, two Crested Serpent-eagles and one Brown Fish-owl.
Michael Meyerhoff, the ACCB curator, said the White-shouldered Ibis was underweight when it arrived at the ACCB, forcing staff at the center to rear the bird with minimal human interaction behind closed doors.
After regular meals of insects, fish and frogs, the bird gained enough weight to feed itself, Mr. Meyerhoff added.
“As soon as the ibis had gained sufficient weight and was flying strongly we coordinated closely with WCS to find a suitable location for its release, near to where it was originally found. We released it near a pond in an area of forest that would provide the bird with food and shelter,” said Mr. Meyerhoff.
In May this year, the ibis was found by local community members of the Tmatboey Community Protected Area.
The four owls were found on the forest floor by the same community members after having fledged prematurely. It was determined that their proximity to the forest edge and the threat of domestic dogs was reason enough to capture and attempt to rehabilitate them in captivity.
The two Crested Serpent-eagles were rescued after being captured for the illegal pet trade. Their wings had been clipped and they had to stay at the ACCB for several months before their feathers had fully regrown and they were able to fly again.
Stefan Harrison, WCS’s Biodiversity and Monitoring Technical Advisor in the northern plains of Cambodia, said that without the support of local community members and the ACCB, the white-shouldered ibis and the other six birds would not have been rescued.
“In the northern plains WCS, in partnership with the Environment Ministry and local communities, has been working tirelessly to conserve many endangered species and habitats over the past 16 years through various activities, including awareness raising and local livelihood improvement,” said Mr. Harrison.
The White-shouldered Ibis has been described as the most threatened large water bird in Southeast Asia. Breeding pairs of White-shouldered Ibis in KPWS form part of their last stronghold, with breeding populations now being confined to northern and eastern Cambodia.
Photo Credit: James Easton