Early nests under community protection

Posted on 13 November 2012  | 
Fourteen new nests of the rare Lesser Adjutant have been found and are being protected by local community members. This increases the number of Lesser Adjutant nests protected to 42 for the first two months of the current breeding season. Two White-shouldered Ibis nests are also under protection, indicating that both species are nesting earlier than in previous years.

Since 2008, WWF and the Forestry Administration have run a Bird Nest Protection programme in the Mekong Flooded Forest, paying local people a small daily wage to protect nests, rather than rob them for food or for the wildlife trade. In 2011, as a result of villagers’ involvement, 119 chicks were fledged from four priority species, including the critically endangered White-shouldered Ibis and Red-headed Vulture, River Terns—one of Cambodia’s most threatened species—and Lesser Adjutants.

Mr. Sok Ko, WWF’s Bird Nest Project Officer and Forestry Administration counterpart, said that many of these nests occur within land designated as an economic land concession, and that “the protection of this species is vitally needed.”

Mr. Sok Ko also mentioned that the Forestry Administration, with support from WWF, was prepared to consider designating some important nesting areas as ‘bird protection zones’ and excluding them from the land concession.

The Mekong Flooded Forest, a 56-km long section of the Mekong River between Kratie and Stung Treng Town, is known as a critical habitat for endangered and rare birds. However, illegal logging and land concessions threaten this biodiversity hotspot.

“To deal with this threat, we work with local authorities to increase patrolling, and disseminate forestry law to local people to make them aware that illegal logging and poaching are prohibited and that they can be fined”, Sok Ko added.
Lesser adjutant chicks
Two lesser adjutant chicks stand curiously out on a branch a few feet from their nest. On average a female Lesser Adjutant produces between 2 to 5 eggs during the breeding season which occurs between October and July.
© Gordon Congdon Enlarge

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