Critically Endangered Vulture Populations on the Rise in Cambodia

By Chelsea Whyte on June 26, 2012 10:57 PM EDT

vultures
While vultures across Asia have become nearly extinct in the past few decades, the vultures of Cambodia have persisted. Conservationists say that the creation of new vulture “restaurants” and the restoration of depleted wildlife species in Southeast Asia are the next important steps needed to ensure a future for these ecologically valuable scavengers. (Photo: A. Michaud)

Cambodia has become the last refuge for the Southeast Asian vultures, according to a new study by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Royal Government of Cambodia.

The authors of the work started a census for the scavengers in 2004, collecting data from several sites in Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Vietnam. They monitored vulture nesting sites and feeding stations, took health assessments of vultures, used satellite transmitter vests on 4 birds to assess their movement patterns, and conducted interviews with government officials, hunters, and wildlife traders to determine the threats to the birds.

Like Us on Facebook

They found that the use of poison by hunters and fishers for capturing other species are leading to unintended vulture mortalities. According to the data, 74 percent of the 42 recorded mortalities during the study period were attributable to poison. Direct persecution (the shooting of vultures with guns and slingshots) was also significant, accounting for 10 percent of recorded vulture mortality.

Unlike neighboring nations, Cambodia's vulture population remains robust, says the study, largely because the country doesn't use an anti-inflammatory drug for cattle that is common in other Southeast Asian countries. The drug, diclofenac, is toxic to fultures, causing kidney failure and gout when the birds feast on cattle carcases. It has led to a global population declines higher than 99 percent in some vulture species.

"Fortunately, the Royal Government of Cambodia has instituted measures to ban diclofenac to ensure the survival of these important birds," said Joe Walston, director of WCS's Asia Program, according to UPI.

The numbers in Cambodia are heartening, as the vulture population rises there, despite more widespread declines. "Results from vulture censuses from past several years have been encouraging, with new nests recorded and even population increases," said Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) researcher Tom Clements, according to New York Daily News.

"The challenge now is to reduce the indirect and direct persecution of vultures, specifically from poisoning and shooting, and longer-term pressures from habitat loss."

The researchers also suggest that the creation of new feeding stations, or vulture "restaurants," could help restore the populations of the critically endangered species. 

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

Join the Conversation

Sponsored From Around the Web

    ZergNet
Follow iScience Times
us on facebook RSS
 
us on google
 
Most Popular
INSIDE iScience Times
Do Dolphins Get High? BBC Cameras Catch Dolphins Chewing On Pufferfish Toxins
Do Dolphins Get High? BBC Cameras Catch Dolphins Chewing On Pufferfish Toxins
How Many Ways Can You Tie A Tie?
How Many Ways Can You Tie A Tie?
Ribbon Of Charged Particles At Solar System's Edge Acts Like A Wind Sock For Interstellar Magnetism
Ribbon Of Charged Particles At Solar System's Edge Acts Like A Wind Sock For Interstellar Magnetism
How to Turn Your Tap Water Faucet  Into a Coffee Spout [VIDEO]
How to Turn Your Tap Water Faucet Into a Coffee Spout [VIDEO]
Coolest Science Photos Of 2013: From Blobfish To Two-Headed Shark, Comet ISON To Mars Selfie
Coolest Science Photos Of 2013: From Blobfish To Two-Headed Shark, Comet ISON To Mars Selfie
This Is A Scientifically-Proven Rock-Paper-Scissors Winning Strategy (But If Your Opponent Uses It Too, It's A Draw)
This Is A Scientifically-Proven Rock-Paper-Scissors Winning Strategy (But If Your Opponent Uses It Too, It's A Draw)