Population of river rare birds in Cambodia doubles in 5 years: conservationist group

Photo released by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on Feb. 11, 2021 shows River Terns flying over the Mekong River in Kratie province, Cambodia. (Photo: Xinhua)
  • Xinhua
  • February 13, 2021 2:56 AM

PHNOM PENH--The population of River Terns in Cambodia has doubled in the past five years, raising hope for the species' conservation, said a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) press statement on Thursday.

River Tern is one of the rarest bird species in Southeast Asia, the statement said. It said WWF's research team came into close encounter with a total of 68 River Terns during their initial bird surveys, conducted in early February 2021 along the Mekong landscape between Kratie, Stung Treng provinces and the Laos border.

The number represented a 119 percent rise from 2016, it added.

The researchers observed the presence of these magnificent River Terns as they were using rapids as their permanent perch for catching fish, while other birds were roaming the natural sandbar habitat, for mating, the statement said, adding that the River Tern's breeding season has begun.

"The River Tern is a medium-sized bird with a forked tail, a black cap and a white belly and is more visible during its breeding season, starting from January until May," said Eam Sam Un, biodiversity research and monitoring manager with WWF.

He added that the current count is slightly higher than that from the past year when only 64 individuals were recorded.

"This is such a rewarding news for Cambodia and the region," said Seng Teak, WWF country director.

"The concerted conservation actions have bended the curve of species decline and the increased and consistent efforts have enabled an increasing trend that brings hope for a recovery of the species in Cambodia and the region," he added.

In Cambodia, River Terns have decreased by 80 percent in the past 20 years, with the nation-wide population estimated between 54 and 62 individuals in 2018, the statement said.

It added that the main threats to the species include habitat disturbance by human activities, nest flooding, hunting for their eggs, predation by domestic cattle and other wildlife.

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