peace unfolds across Southeast Asia, decisions about land
use are occurring at a rapidly increasing pace. The open
dipterocarp forests of Southeast Asia may be forever changed
within the next decade. Development is occurring as quickly
in northern Cambodia, where the bulk of this open forest
ecosystem remains, as anywhere else.
With support from the Convention on Migratory Species
(CMS), ICF organized an aerial survey of large waterbirds
to assist strategies for conserving biodiversity in northern
Cambodia. To utilize 42 hours of flight time efficiently,
we mapped and planned our flights to maximize coverage of
the approximately 12,000 wetlands that varied greatly in
size and were scattered among 5 million hectares of open
What we found from the air was stunning: 82 Sarus crane
nesting territories, 381 Lesser Adjutants (with two nesting
colonies), 21 Greater Adjutants, 19 Giant Ibis, 180 Woolly-necked
Storks, 30 Black-necked Storks, 1 White-shouldered Ibis,
1,262 Open-billed Storks, 143 Painted Storks, 2 Milky Storks
and many other species. More importantly, these species
were spread across most of northern Cambodia.
Some survey areas held concentrations of several species.
Here, the typical approach to conservation might work well:
identify boundaries for a reserve and limit development.
Yet, given the expansive distribution of these large waterbirds,
this "protected area approach" would leave out a significant
proportion of the birds that still exist in this threatened
region. Clearly, in addition to establishing protected areas,
conservationists need to develop ways that people and these
native ecosystems can co-exist.
Another surprising result from this survey is the concentration
of large flocks at Ang Trapeang Thmaw Wildlife Reserve (ATT)
during the rainy season. ATT was established through the
efforts of Sam Veasna of the Cambodia Department of Forestry,
Fisheries, and Wildlife (DFW) and Eleanor Briggs of ICF.
It was first identified as being an important wetland for
Eastern Sarus Cranes and other waterbirds during the non-breeding
(dry) season. Our survey suggests that ATT provides non-breeding
habitat for large waterbirds during both the dry and wet
seasons, making it unique in Southeast Asia.
ICF collaborated with DFW; the Wildlife Conservation Society
(WCS); the Cambodia Ministry of the Environment (MOE); Mission
Aviation Fellowship (MAF); and World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
to conduct these surveys in September, 2001. Successful
follow-up for conservation will depend upon people from
these organizations and more. For more details, please visit
Source: Jeb Barzen, International
Crane Foundation (ICF)