Two Sarus Cranes Spotted in Sambor Sanctuary, first in 20 years

The first sighting in 20 years of the globally endangered sarus crane was recently made in Sambor Wildlife Sanctuary. Photo: Eam Sam Un @WWF-Cambodia

PHNOM PENH – The first sighting in 20 years of the globally endangered sarus crane was recently made in Sambor Wildlife Sanctuary.

The Biodiversity Research Team of the Kratie Provincial Department of Environment of the Ministry of Environment and WWF Cambodia reported on July 30 that they spotted a pair of sarus cranes in the protected area the day before. Along with the two birds, they discovered a nest containing several eggs.

Sarus cranes are the tallest species of crane, standing at a height of up to 1.8 meters. They can travel long distances and are found in parts of the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and Australia.

Due to its declining population, the species is listed as vulnerable on the Red List of Threatened Species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Available data for Cambodia show that the sarus crane population stood at 161 specimens in 2021, down to 156 in 2022.

But after several new sightings this year, conservationists estimate the population might have increased to 180 in 2023.

Neth Pheaktra, secretary of state at the Ministry of Environment, said that this is good news and that the ministry values the collaborative efforts to protect and conserve natural resources and wildlife. Such discoveries demonstrate the effectiveness of the ministry's partner organizations' action plans and resource conservation improvements.

“It is good news that the 2023 census results show positive signs, [after] census data for the last 10 years [have shown] a downward trend,” said Neth Pheaktra.

On July 14, the ministry decided to create a working group dedicated to crane conservation. Along with local partner organizations, it aims to provide safe areas for cranes through protective law enforcement, research education and the creation of local economic developments.

Pheaktra urged communities located around protected areas to stop trapping, poaching and trading illegal wildlife. He instead called on them to help the government in its conservation efforts to strengthen biodiversity and ecotourism in Cambodia.

Eam Sam Un, a biodiversity research manager at WWF, said this remarkable discovery is undoubtedly the result of conservation efforts to protect the Sambor Wildlife Sanctuary.

In July 2023, researchers also recorded four other cranes living in Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary, a 373-hectare protected area located in Mondulkiri province.

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