Cambodia Marks 2020 International Vulture Awareness Day with Warning Message of Vulture Extinction

AKP Phnom Penh, September 05, 2020 —

Cambodia marks today the 2020 International Vulture Awareness Day with the message that vultures need all our help if they are to survive in the country.

“Vultures play an important role in maintaining the environment by stripping the carcasses of dead animals, which helps to reduce the spread of disease. They are nature’s ‘clean-up crew’. But it is this that puts them in danger. Illegal use of carbofuran-based poisons can exterminate vulture populations. These dangerous chemicals should be restricted as they are dangerous to human health too. As a result, all three resident species of vulture in the dry forest landscape of the country are threatened with extinction,” underlined a joint press release AKP received this morning

“Cambodia represents the last hope for these species in the region, but the numbers have halved over the past ten years. Just one significant population remains, straddling the Mekong in Siem Pang Wildlife Sanctuary in Stung Treng province and Chhep Wildlife Sanctuary in PreahVihear province,” it added.

According to the same source, vultures are masters of the air! Recent satellite tagging of vultures in Siem Pang Wildlife Sanctuary has revealed vultures fly at heights of 6 km, and by flying at up to 100 km/hour can commute between the vulture feeding stations in Chhep and Siem Pang Wildlife Sanctuaries with ease.

“All Cambodians can be proud to still have vultures in the country but everyone needs to support their conservation efforts by protecting their habitats and especially by stopping wildlife poisoning. Otherwise Cambodia’s vultures will go extinct, as in the neighbouring countries of Thailand and Vietnam,” says Mr. Michael Meyerhoff, Country Director of ACCB.

The Cambodia Vulture Working Group (CVWG) is formed of NGOs, government and academic institute, with the aim of preventing the extinction of vultures in Cambodia. The core member of CVWG comprises Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity, BirdLife International, Wildlife Conservation Society, WWF, Centre for Biodiversity Conservation and the ordinary members comprise Cambodian Bird Guide Association, Nature Life Cambodia, Sam Veasna Conservation Tour and Centre for Biodiversity Conservation of Royal University of Phnom Penh.

“The conservation status of the three critically endangered vultures in Cambodia is highly concerning, carbamate pesticides pose a key risk to the survival of vultures but also to human health and livestock. WWF is advocating a ‘One Health’ approach linking the health of people, animals and our shared environment and urges this to be included in decision making on wildlife and land use change,” said Mr. Teak Seng, Country Director of WWF-Cambodia.

According to the 2020 census, a total of 119 vultures of three species have been recorded in four natural protected areas in Preah Vihear, Stung Treng, Mondulkiri, and Kratie provinces of Cambodia, a decrease by 18 individuals compared to the 2019 census.

Of them, there are 11 red-headed vultures (Sarcogyps calvus), 71 white-rumped vultures (Gyps bengalensis), and 37 slender-billed vultures (Gyps tenuirostris).

(Photo: WCS)

By C. Nika