Cambodia’s Vultures are Slowly Disappearing

The Ministry of Environment is investigating the declining vulture population in Cambodia. Photo: Neth Pheaktra

The Ministry of Environment is working with the Wildlife Conservation Society of Cambodia to determine how badly affected the vulture population has been affected by hunting.

PHNOM PENH--Despite government interventions, the number of vultures in Cambodia continues to decline annually, according to Ministry of the Environment spokesperson Neth Pheaktra. On June 10, Pheaktra announced that the ministry, in conjunction with the Wildlife Conservation Society of Cambodia (WCS), has started their census for 2020 to determine how endangered the nation’s vulture population is.

On June 10, ministry officials along with representatives from the WCS recorded 34 vultures in Preah Vihear province, but noted that the population had declined since December 2019 when 44 vultures had been spotted in the area. Authorities are to continue monitoring in other areas known to house vultures. 

Pheaktra went on to say that the reason for the decline in vultures in Cambodia is primarily due to human pollution causing a loss of habitat, as well as foot shortages and hunting traps.  

He added that some communities had been using poison traps to kill wild animals, however this was in turn killing Cambodia’s vultures who eat the poisoned corpses. Pheaktra called on people to stop hunting and to help put an end to wildlife trading. 

In Cambodia, there are three species of vulture; white-rumped vultures, slender-billed vultures and the red-headed vulture, but authorities have seen a dramatic decline in the populations of all three species.

“These populations are threatened by a lack of food. Elsewhere, poisoning through consumption of carcasses that have previously been treated with the veterinary drug Diclofenac has led to large population declines,” WCS Cambodia said. 

The Vulture Census results of 2019, show that Cambodia had just 137 vultures, with the largest populations found in the Siem Pang Wildlife Sanctuary in Stung Treng and the wildlife sanctuary in Chheb district, Preah Vihear Province.

 


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