A Record Number of Lesser Adjutant Nests Found

A total of 48 lesser adjutant nests with 68 of the endangered adult birds and chicks have been recorded living along the Mekong in Kratie
Lesser adjutants living along the Mekong River in Kratie province. Kiripost via WWF Cambodia
Lesser adjutants living along the Mekong River in Kratie province. Kiripost via WWF Cambodia

A biodiversity monitoring and research team from Sambo Wildlife Sanctuary has recorded 48 lesser adjutant nests with a confirmed number of 68 adult birds and chicks living along the Mekong flooded forest habitat.

The team consists of Ministry of Environment and WWF Cambodia and they said in a joint statement on Monday that the discovery is an encouraging result that forms part of an on-going bird survey series conducted during the breeding season from October to December by rangers from the Kratie Provincial Department of Environment and WWF wildlife researchers, with participation from members of local communities living adjacent to the habitat area.

A WWF biodiversity specialist described the current result as a high record of lesser adjutant nests in the past four years in the area. In addition, the current number of nests has increased by almost 130 percent compared to only 24 nests documented during the same period in 2021.

Neth Pheaktra, Secretary of State and Spokesman for the Ministry of Environment, said the number of nests has increased from 24 in 2021 to 48 nests in 2022. He added that this gives hope for biodiversity and wildlife conservationists that the number of lesser adjutants in Cambodia will increase in the future.

Pheaktra urged people living around Sambo Wildlife Sanctuary to continue to participate in safeguarding the protected area and conserving all wildlife and bird species, as these wildlife resources are important for the sustainability of the natural ecosystem. He added that the increase in the number of lesser adjutants and other animals is crucial to enhance the potential of ecotourism in the area.

Pheaktra also called for an end to all kinds of snaring, trapping and poisoning, which can have serious consequences for wildlife survival.

“I strongly urge all people who like to eat wild animals to stop eating and stop buying wild animals in order to conserve our Cambodian wildlife," Pheaktra said, adding that the increase in the presence and number of some wildlife is a sign of improved safety in the Cambodian Protected Areas.

The Ministry of Environment and WWF, with funding from the Government of Belgium (DGD) and WWF Belgium, have been implementing the bird nest protection program by engaging the local communities from the habitat area to monitor and together with rangers conduct regular patrols in order to safeguard the bird’s eggs and nests until fledging.

The program focuses on large bird species, including lesser adjutants, white-shouldered ibis, giant obis, and vultures. Listed as vulnerable on the IUCN’s Red List, the lesser adjutant population is estimated to be at least 3,000 birds in Cambodia and is threatened by poaching, loss of nesting habitat due to conversion and degradation of wetlands.