3 critically endangered Giant Ibis killed in Cambodia's protected area: conservationists

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PHNOM PENH, April 16 (Xinhua) -- Three critically endangered Giant Ibis, Cambodia's national bird, had been killed in a single deliberate poisoning event in a wildlife sanctuary in northern Preah Vihear province, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) said in a press statement on Thursday.

The incident was detected on April 9 in the Chhep Wildlife Sanctuary, the statement said, adding that the birds were killed illegally for their meat, which would have been consumed locally or sold on the market.

In addition to the Ibis poisoning, more than 100 Painted Stork chicks were poached in late March at Cambodia's Prek Toal Ramsar Site, the largest waterbird colony in Southeast Asia, it said.

In the last two weeks as economies have closed down and incomes have dried up due to the COVID-19 pandemic, conservationists have seen an increasing turn to natural resource exploitation - including poaching of protected wildlife, the statement said.

"Suddenly rural people have little to turn to but natural resources and we're already seeing a spike in poaching," Said Colin Poole, WCS regional director for Greater Mekong, said.

Since early February, Community Protected Area patrol teams and Provincial Department of Environment rangers have taken action against twelve cases of bird hunting using poisons in the Northern Plains, the statement said.

As well as Giant Ibis, victims have included globally threatened White-winged Duck and Sarus Crane, as well as many other species, it added.

Poachers place carbofuran-based poisons, which are particularly lethal to birds, in waterholes and collect the dead birds, the statement said.

The Giant Ibis Thaumatibis gigantea is Cambodia's national bird. It is classified as "Critically Endangered" globally, and is a protected species in Cambodia, it said.

Although it was formerly widespread in Southeast Asia, it is now only found in Cambodia where there are thought to be less than 300 individuals remaining, the statement said. Enditem

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