project news

Protecting Hornbills in Cambodia

News item submitted by Frontier
News item dated 27 Jan 2009


Frontier field staff in Cambodia are attempting to designate a new Important Bird Area on the strength of conservation concerns for the many stunning species in Botum Sakor National Park.

Intensive surveys by our scientists have shown that the park meets two of the three main criteria for choosing IBA sites. It contains substantial populations of species that are of global conservation concern. It also has a diverse array which are restricted to certain habitats, and vulnerable to local extinction. 

For example, of Cambodia’s four hornbill species, three are well known to Frontier staff. They have estimated that 3,400 locally endangered wreathed hornbills, and 16,000 oriental pied hornbills inhabit in the park. There is also a substantial population of majestic great hornbills with groups of up to five of these extraordinary birds being regularly encountered by field staff. Unsurprisingly known for their massive horn-like bills, which males may use in mid-air ‘butting’ bouts in competitions for mates, these birds are threatened by illegal logging, hunting, poaching and the local pet-trade.

Botum Sakor contains around 200 bird species, including grey-headed fish eagles, white-bellied sea eagles and lesser adjutant storks. It is a buzzing haven for no less than nine species of kingfishers, bee-eaters resplendent in reds and blues, and the disreputable cuckoo family. Particularly interesting is a large population of the green peafowl, hunted to near extinction in surrounding countries, but apparently thriving in the park.

Frontier are working with the organisation Birdlife International to help designate a new IBA in the North-Western region of the park, encompassing the most biodiverse areas of avifauna. Its establishment would go a long way towards ensuring Cambodia remains a refuge for the many birds threatened by human activity in Indochina.

Read more about our Cambodia Project