Cambodia's Endangered And Enticing Avifauna

The green peafowl, a bird famous for its beauty, is an endangered species with small populations in Cambodia.
The green peafowl, a bird famous for its beauty, is an endangered species with small populations in Cambodia.

Cambodia is a country in Southeast Asia with an incredible diversity of wildlife. The country hosts a rich array of diverse avifauna including both land and water birds. Several factors like poaching, habitat loss, wetland drainage, etc., threaten the bird life of the country. Here we discuss the most threatend birds of the country.

8. White-winged Duck -

The white-winged duck (Asarcornis scutulata) is an elusive, nocturnal species that inhabits standing or slow-flowing wetland areas. The birds have suffered a sharp decline in population due to loss of riverine habitat, destruction of habitat, and also hunting. There are only about 1,000 ducks surviving today of which around 100 individuals live in Cambodia. In the country, the white-winged ducks live in watering holes and rivers in semi-evergreen and evergreen forests.

7. White-shouldered Ibis -

The white-shouldered ibis (Pseudibis davisoni) is a highly threatened species of bird living in Cambodia. Only about 500 individuals survive today with around 400 of them inhabiting eastern and northern Cambodia. Two small populations of the white-shouldered ibis also live in Lao PDR and Indonesia’s Kalimantan. Drainage of wetlands, hunting, human disturbance, and deforestation has dramatically reduced the population of this species which was once widespread in distribution. In Cambodia, the birds are mainly observed in the Siem Pang district, and along the stretch of the Mekong River that lies between Stung Treng and Kratie.

6. Vultures -

The slender-billed vulture (Gyps tenuirostris), red-headed vulture (Sarcogyps calvus), and the white-rumped vulture (Gyps bengalensis) are three critically endangered species of vultures living in Cambodia and other parts of Asia. Organizations like the WWF and Bird Life International are constantly working hard to save the last remaining birds. The vultures died in masses in the Indian sub-continent upon feeding livestock carcasses containing diclofenac, a poison for these birds. Thus, conserving the population of these vultures in Southeast Asia is of vital importance.

5. Sarus Crane -

The sarus crane (Antigone antigone) is the world’s tallest flying bird, and some individuals grow up to 1.80 meters tall. Though once widespread in distribution, the sarus crane population has been reduced to fewer than 1,000 birds mostly living in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam. The collection of sarus crane eggs and chicks, poaching of adults for food, capture, and habitat destruction have endangered the lives of these avians.

4. Masked Finfoot -

Masked finfoots (Heliopais personatus) are aquatic birds with tapered bills and long necks. These birds live in slow-flowing rivers, streams, ponds, creeks, and the edges of lakes in mangroves and lowland forests. Since these birds are very shy, they hardly make an appearance to make proper population estimates. The birds have been observed in the Mondulkiri Protected Forest of Cambodia, and it is believed that the large rivers in the Eastern Plains region of the country serve as ideal habitats for these birds.

3. Green Peafowl -

Green peafowls (Pavo muticus) are one of Cambodia’s most iconic birds. For years, these birds were used as royal pets by Cambodia’s ruling dynasties. The birds have suffered a rapid decline due to hunting for wild meat and feathers. Wild birds are also captured for the pet trade. Thus, small populations of green peafowl now remain confined to the eastern and northern provinces of Cambodia.

2. Greater Adjutant -

The greater adjutants (Leptoptilos dubius) are distinctive and large-sized storks that inhabit tropical wetlands where they feed on small terrestrial and aquatic wildlife. The greater adjutant populations have reduced greatly due to wetland destruction and human disturbance, and Cambodia is the last remaining place where these birds still breed. Two-thirds of the population of these birds live in the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve. Small populations are also estimated to live in the dry forests of the northern plains and along some parts of the Mekong River.

1. Giant Ibis -

The giant ibis (Thaumatibis gigantea) is a critically endangered species of bird that has a highly reduced population primarily residing in Cambodia. Hunting, habitat loss, deforestation of lowland areas have pushed these birds to the brink of extinction. The Preah Vihear and Mondulkiri province of Cambodia houses a small population of the giant ibis. If luck prevails, one can observe these birds at the watering holes in the dry forest habitat. The giant ibis which has been declared as the national bird of the country is now protected by law, and efforts are on to recover the population of this species.


More in Environment