Largest White-shouldered Ibis flock recorded


White-shouldered Ibis (photo: John Eames).

Record numbers of the Critically Endangered White-shouldered Ibis have been recorded at two sites in Cambodia, giving conservationists further hope for the survival of the species and renewed calls for further protection of its key habitats.

This month BirdLife's Cambodia Programme Office and staff from the Wildlife Protection Office (WPO) recorded a staggering 108 birds at two sites in western Siem Pang District in Stung Treng Province, Cambodia.

At the first site, 28 birds were recorded in trees by forest wetlands known locally as trapeangs. Later that day, at another site in the southern part of the district, 80 birds were seen coming in to roost Ã? this is the largest flock of White-shouldered Ibis ever recorded. In 2005 BirdLife and the WPO recorded 70 White-shouldered Ibis at wetlands in western Siem Pang. The recent sightings confirm the international importance of Siem Pang for the ibis. The global population of White-shouldered Ibis was previously estimated at just 250 mature individuals.

"This is great news for the White-shouldered Ibis" said Prich Phirun, WPO/BirdLife Project Officer, "Because the two sites are so far apart, we think there is almost no chance of double-counting."

The White-shouldered Ibis is a large ibis which inhabits trapeangs and slow-flowing watercourses in open lowland dry dipterocarp forest, often subject to seasonal flooding. The reasons for population declines are not well understood.

"On the available evidence, western Siem Pang District is the single most important site in the world for the White-shouldered Ibis. BirdLife believes that the establishment of a Protected Forest would be the best first course of action for the conservation of this species." said Jonathan Eames, Programme Manager for BirdLife International in Indochina.

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Written by: BirdLife International