PHNOM PENH, June 18 (Xinhua) -- The population of critically endangered vultures in Cambodia has seen a slight increase, raising hope for the species conservation, Neth Pheaktra, secretary of state and spokesman for the Ministry of Environment, said on Saturday.
Citing the preliminary results from the 2022 census conducted twice by the Cambodia Vulture Working Group at four vulture habitats, Pheaktra said a census on June 10 indicated that 134 vultures were recorded, and another census on June 17 found that there were 128 vultures.
"The figures represent a slight surge from a total of 121 vultures recorded in the 2021 census," he told Xinhua.
"The results show that the population of this rare species has begun to recover after declining in recent years. It's a positive sign for our conservation efforts," he added.
However, two other censuses will be conducted in September and December to determine the exact number of the vultures for 2022, the spokesman said.
The southeast Asian nation is home to three vulture species, namely Red-headed (Sarcogyps calvus), White-rumped (Gyps bengalensis), and Slender-billed (Gyps tenuirostris), he said, adding that all are listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as critically endangered.
Pheaktra said the species are living in Siem Pang Wildlife Sanctuary in Stung Treng province, Chheb Wildlife Sanctuary in Preah Vihear province, Sambo Wildlife Sanctuary in Kratie province, and Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary in Mondulkiri province.
He said vultures, as nature's "clean-up crew", play an important role in maintaining the environment by stripping the carcasses of dead animals, which helps reduce the spread of disease.
In an effort to save this rare bird, the conservationist group has periodically fed the birds with dead domestic cattle and routinely protected their nests and habitats, Pheaktra said.