Six nests of the critically endangered white-shouldered ibis have been found in the northern plains of Preah Vihear province.
According to a statement from the Wildlife Conservation Society yesterday, the nests were found in Tmatbouy village in the Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary.
The nests are now being protected under a safeguarding project which is a key step forward to prevent extinction, WCS said.
The white-shouldered ibis is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The birds live in Cambodia, Laos and Indonesia.
While the global population has declined – it is estimated that fewer than 1,000 individuals remain globally – the vast majority of the species are in Cambodia.
Land clearance, logging, hunting and poisoning continue to put the species at high risk, WCS said.
The Tmatbouy forests are home to approximately 50 white-shouldered ibises.
More than 200 foreign tourists, who are mostly birdwatchers from Europe, visit the giant and white-shouldered ibises every year, with the income generated used to develop the village and conserve the rarest birds.
The community estimates it could earn about $10,000 each tourist season, which runs from October to April.
“We are very excited to find the white-shouldered ibis nests because they are the target species for birding tourists who visit Tmatbouy,” said Dep Kimon, head of the Tmatbouy Community Protected Area ecotourism sub-committee.
He added most community members understand the significance of conservation and how it offers long-term sustainable income for the community.
Eng Mengey, communications manager of WCS, said there were two to three eggs in each nest and they would start hatching in early April.
He added that six nests were also found in 2017.
Researchers from WCS and the Environment Ministry found two pairs of critically endangered giant ibis in Mondulkiri’s Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary in 2017.
They were the first of the species found in the sanctuary for ten years.
“This finding confirms once again that Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary is a biodiversity hotspot and vital for conservation of globally threatened mammal and bird species,” WCS said at the time.
Mr Mengey noted yesterday that members of the Tmatbouy ecotourism community were monitoring the area and guarding the nests.
Conservation has been moving forward, Mr Mengey added, as exemplified by the increasing number of birds.