Growing number of Cambodia vultures offer hope for endangered scavengers

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Washington, Sep 6 (ANI): While vultures across Asia are on the verge of extinction, the vultures of Cambodia are apparently increasing in number, providing a beacon of hope for these threatened scavengers, say experts.

According to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and other members of the Cambodia Vulture Conservation Project the record numbers of vultures have been counted in Cambodia's annual vulture census, with 296 birds of three species found at multiple sites across the Northern and Eastern Plains of Cambodia.

The record count means that Cambodia is home to the only increasing population of vultures in Asia.

Specifically, the census indicates that the country's population of white-rumped vultures is increasing; populations of red-headed and slender billed vultures were found to be stable.

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) has listed all three of Cambodia's vulture species as "Critically Endangered".he census success follows a record breeding season for vultures in Cambodia. This year, a total of 36 vulture chicks fledged from colonies across the north and east of the country, an increase from last year's total of 19 chicks.

"By protecting nests and supplementing food supplies, we are saving some of the world's largest and most charismatic birds," stated Hugo Rainey, WCS technical advisor to the Cambodia Vulture Conservation Project.

"Nowhere else in Asia do vultures have such a promising future," Rainey said.

Song Chansocheat, Ministry of Environment and WCS Vulture Project Manager, commented that "Cambodia is the only Asian country where diclofenac is rarely used and vulture populations are managed.

"We have been monitoring vultures since 2004 and there have been increasing numbers of poisoned birds recently. Educating people about the risk to wildlife and people from incorrect use of poisons is important," he said.

"Cambodia has become a critical source site for vultures, one that we need to protect as a means of saving these ecologically valuable birds," said Joe Walston, director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Asia Program. (ANI)

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