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Cambodia records stable population of rare river birds at 71

PHNOM PENH, May 24 (Xinhua) -- The Mekong population of River Tern in Cambodia is stable in the past two years with 71 birds recorded in 2023 along with three beautiful and healthy chicks, said a World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) press statement on Wednesday.

Citing a report early this week from the bird nest surveys led by WWF's Mekong Flooded Forest team between February and April, the statement said the number in fact represents an increase of almost 130 percent if compared with the survey result obtained about seven years ago, from only 31 birds in 2016 to 71 in 2023.

The birds and hatchlings are currently occupying 31 nests, which are under the protection of local communities living adjacent to the habitat areas along the Mekong river in Kratie and Stung Treng provinces, it added.

Listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, the River Tern is one of the rare bird species in Southeast Asia. In Cambodia, the bird population suffered a serious decline with a more than 80 percent decrease during the past 20 years mainly due to human activities, the statement said.

"This bird becomes the rarest bird species on earth today," WWF-Cambodia country director Seng Teak said.

According to the statement, the current survey result is evidence that the bird population has started to recover, raising hope for species conservation in Cambodia and in the world.

"We thank the local people from the bird habitat areas for their active involvement in the Community-based Bird Nest Protection Program implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and WWF," the statement said.