In August 2007 In Focus became the first official BirdLife Species Champion
in agreeing help the White-shouldered Ibis avoid extinction. This was
announced at the 2007 Birdfair opening ceremony at the launch of a huge
new BirdLife International project to save Critically Endangered Species.
In Focus was congratulated on their immediate support of this vital initiative.
The Birdfair is Global Programme Sponsor of the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions
Programme and is raising funds during the 2007, 2008 and 2009 Birdfairs
to kick-start and develop this programme.
The White-shouldered Ibis occurs in Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and East
Kalimantan, Indonesia. It has declined dramatically during the twentieth
century and has been described as the most threatened large waterbird
in South-East Asia. The species has an extremely small, declining and
severely fragmented population (numbering fewer than 250 mature individuals)
as a result of deforestation, drainage of wetlands, hunting and disturbance.
It is projected to decline by >80% over the next three generations
(25 years). Western Siem Pang, Cambodia, is the most important site in
the world for the species: 108 birds were recorded in November 2006. The
government has made a commitment in principle to designate the area a
Protected Forest, but it is currently threatened by plans for a plantation
concession, which would result in large-scale forest clearance, road development
and immigration into the area.
Largest ever count of White-shouldered Ibis
Conservationists from the Birdlife International Cambodia Programme and University of East Anglia (UEA), UK, recently counted the largest number of White-shouldered Ibis Pseudibis davisoni ever recorded. At least 161 were counted; confirming that Western Siem Pang, Cambodia, is the single most important site for the species. The total number of White-shouldered Ibis is likely to be even higher than this figure, as many more roost sites are being found in Western Siem Pang.
Western Siem Pang consistently yields the highest counts of this species anywhere in the world. I am thrilled we have broken our best ever count yet again, said Jonathan Eames, Programme Manager of Birdlife International in Indochina.
"We just dont know why we have so many White-shouldered Ibis at Western Siem Pang. My hunch is that the species is resident so we are not recording movements of birds from elsewhere. I also believe that cattle and buffalo stocking density is key to understanding the density and abundance of the species, said Eames.
Western Siem Pang is home to Cambodias 'Big Five'. The site currently supports five Critically Endangered bird species. The other four are: Giant Ibis Thaumatibis gigantea, White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis, Slender-billed Vulture Gyps tenuirostris, and Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus.
Western Siem Pang consistently yields the highest counts of this species anywhere in the world. I am thrilled we have broken our best ever count yet again Jonathan Eames, BirdLife
"The numbers of White-shouldered Ibis and the presence of populations of four other Critically Endangered species, make Western Siem Pang an irreplaceable site we have got to conserve, Eames continued.
Western Siem Pang is currently unprotected. BirdLife has been active at the site for several years already, undertaking species monitoring and awareness activities. Together with the Forestry Administration, BirdLife is now actively advocating the designation of a Protected Forest covering a large part of the site.
In order to save this species a great deal of research is required to understand its ecology and relationships with local people. As research continues we hope to provide concrete conservation recommendations for this species, said UEA PhD student Hugh Wright.
White-shouldered Ibis is one of the species benefitting from the BirdLife
Preventing Extinctions Programme. In August 2007, In Focus became a Species
Champion for White-shouldered Ibis. The programme is spearheading greater
conservation action, awareness and funding support for all of the world's
most threatened birds, starting with the 192 species classified as Critically
Endangered, the highest level of threat.