Thursday, 27 August 2009

New bird count finds more rare ibises in Cambodia

In this Nov. 2, 2006 photo released by wildlife conservation groups of BirdLife International, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), White-shouldered Ibis perch on branches of a tree in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Conservation organizations announced Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2009, that a new bird census has found that there are more of the endangered White-shouldered Ibis living in Cambodia than had previously been thought to be surviving worldwide. (AP Photo/BirdLife International, WCS, WWF)

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS • August 26, 2009

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA — A new bird census has found that Cambodia is home to more endangered white-shouldered ibises than had been thought were in existence worldwide, three conservation organizations said Wednesday.

A joint statement from BirdLife International, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the World Wildlife Fund for Nature said 310 of the wading birds were found in the country's north and northeast during research carried out in July.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature, or IUCN, had estimated this year that from 50 to 249 mature white-shouldered ibises were in existence worldwide, making the species critically endangered.

Hugh Wright, a PhD student at Britain's University of East Anglia who has been leading the research for 18 months, said there was a good chance that the actual population exceeded 310.

"Nevertheless, it is unlikely that the population has increased or is recovering, instead we are just starting to make more effort to count them and searching in more places," he said.
The statement did not mention any plans to expand their research.

The birds, considered endangered by the World Conservation Union, have a dark plumage with a pale blue collar and an off-white patch on the forewings, according to the Web site of the IUCN.

They are found mainly in Cambodia although they were once common in other Southeast Asian countries including Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Indonesia, it said.

The statement said that it was not yet clear why the bird's numbers have been in decline in the last few decades, "although hunting and habitat destruction are likely to have played a part." It said they will conduct a new count in Cambodia in September.

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