Environmentalists have discovered a rare masked finfoot nest in Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary, Cambodia, the first of its kind in four years, raising hopes of its continuing survival.
The New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society said its scientists, along with conservationists from Cambodia’s Environment Ministry and residents along the Memay river in the Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary, discovered the only confirmed breeding location in Cambodia for the very rare species.
“I am proud of this finding because it is very rare species. We have not recorded any nests since 2013. Through nest protection program, we have hired two local villagers to protect the nest to prevent any harm and disturbance,” said Rours Vann, Ministry of Environment/Wildlife Conservation Society Research Team Leader in the Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary.
Masked Finfoot (Heliopais personatus) is listed on the International Union for Conversation of Nature Red List as Globally Endangered, because its global population is declining at an alarming rate.
This riverine species lives only in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam. It is an aquatic bird, also known as the Asian finfoot, notorious for being very shy and having a long neck.
According to the researchers at the Wildlife Conservation Society, masked finfoot global population is less than 1,000 individuals, while little is known about numbers in Cambodia.
“Department of Environment staff in KPWS work closely with community wildlife rangers employed by WCS to protect and monitor river networks for Masked Finfoot. DoE rangers conduct law enforcement patrol in key breeding and feeding habitat,” said Song Chansocheat, Deputy Director of Environment in Preah Vihear Province.
“This finding provides further evidence that the Northern Plains of Cambodia is an important biodiversity hotspot and critical area for conserving breeding habitat for globally threatened water birds,” Alistair Mould, a technical adviser for to Nothern Plains of Cambodia.
The Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary, in Preah Vihear province, is home to many threatened species of bird, including the globally endangered masked finfoot, giant ibis and white-shouldered ibis, the Wildlife Conservation Society said.
Earlier this month, seven eggs belonging to the globally endangered white-winged duck were found inside a Koki tree in Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary. It was the first such nest to be discovered in five years of research there.
Last month, WCS discovered a critically endangered Siamese crocodile nest of 19 eggs near Koh Kong province’s Sre Ambel river for the first time in six years of research.