5.1. Main survey findings and observations
The survey confirmed the continued presence of a small and self-sustaining population of Giant Ibis in the vicinity of Kamlot village. This was obtained through consistent villager’s knowledge of the species as well as by hearing its call and direct sightings on two consecutive days.
On 29 January, no Giant Ibis, neither calls nor signs were detected. The camera-trap site (visited in the morning) was located at the edge of a patch of semi-evergreen forest with dry deciduous forest, but no permanent or seasonal pool was visible in the vicinity. The site is therefore unlikely to be used by the species at this time of the year, although one may argue that given the extended wet weather this year, the environmental conditions might be quite similar to those in August, when the photograph was taken. Nevertheless, nearly all persons met and questioned later in the day along tracks around the village recognized Giant Ibis on the field guide’s plate and named it “Ko-lôk”, with reference to its call.
Mrs Chem Sopha (57) said she uses to see two birds in Boeng Veal Srae after the harvest, each year. Mr Ohm Lem (60) independently reported similarly, and added he had seen a pair of White-winged Ducks at Tropeang Lopieng. He remembers seeing the latter species nesting in a
tree hole some 15 years ago. Mr May Miék (62) also declares seeing Giant Ibis in pairs at the same place. Mr Kan Chan (38), an orphan from Kamlot’s Phum Thmey village, met in the late afternoon, was quite talkative and assertive about Giant Ibis visiting Boeng Veal Srae every day. He sees up to six birds there, sometimes together with (Lesser) Adjutants and rarely Black-necked Stork. He detailed that the birds were calling at 4:00am, then come to feed at 7:00am until noon, and return again around 4:00 until 5:00pm. He then brought us to the site, a flooded area in the middle of ricefields just south of the village and with a few thatched huts in the vicinity. No large waterbirds were present. He agreed to guide us the next morning across the river to Tropeang Lopieng.
Mr Kan Chan agreed to be our knowledgeable Giant Ibis guide, amidst general villager defiance
On 30 January, at 5:45am, distant Giant Ibis calls were heard at Boeng Veal Sraé, but only once, probably involving two birds, coming from the southeast of the ricefields. Stayed posted there until 7:30 am, very misty, no large waterbirds came to feed. Then on motorbike to the riverbank with Chan and Chamroeun, crossed ford and followed trail through semi-evergreen forest for about 30 minutes before reaching a large permanent wetland called Tropeang Lopieng. Careful approach, no large waterbirds flushed or seen, then walked along the edge southwards, and one Giant Ibis took off from the very corner; then perched, uttering raucous protest calls for a while, before taking off further into the forest.
Edge of wetlands were investigated for footprints and probe signs. No large waterbirds seen at nearby Tropeang Srae Mean Cham.
In Kamlot’s Phum Tchas village, Mr Tchey, the motorbike mechanics declared that he often hears several pairs of Giant Ibis, totalling up to 10 birds! He also operates the boat travelling down to Sre Ambel during the wet season, and he has seen a pair of White-winged Ducks in a river pool called Anlong Youn, near Peam Treng village, about 5km downstream from the road ford. Green Peafowl is common along the river, he added.
During the afternoon, no sign of key species or sizeable pool during exploratory travel northeast of Kamlot village. However, one villager reported the presence of Giant Ibis, Sarus Crane (rare) and Green peafowl (seen) in the area. At Boeng Veal Srae during 4:00-5:00pm, Phirun saw only Woolly-necked Storks.
On 31 January, arrival at dawn at Tropeang Lopieng, where two Woolly-necked Storks and a single Black-necked Stork were already feeding; at 7:00am, two Giant Ibis landed on the far shore and slowly moved towards the south; a couple of times, a third bird was heard calling distantly, without triggering response from the two feeding birds; the pond was enveloped in thick fog until after 8:30am, when the Ibis had reached the southern corner of the lake.
5.2.Key species accounts
The survey recorded 110 bird species, which are listed in the Appendix.
Below are summary accounts of for key species of birds or mammals recorded or reliably reported during the survey.
- Green Peafowl Pavo muticus (Globally Threatened – Endangered): territorial call of males was heard twice, along the Stung Kompong Saom. Probably distributed fairly regularly along the river, upstream of the main track ford.
- White-winged Duck Cairina scutulata (Globally Threatened – Endangered): not recorded, but one informant confidently reported seeing a pair at Tropeang Lepieng, as well as a nest 15 years ago at an unnamed site. The species is definitely very rare in the area, but deserves further work as any small population is of conservation significance.
- Black-necked Stork Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus (Globally Near-Threatened): one female feeding at Tropeang Lopieng on 31 January. The species is very rare in Cambodia, its presence adding to the conservation value of the site.
A rather confiding Black-necked Stork, feeding at Tropeang Lopieng wetland on 31 January
Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilus javanicus (Globally Threatened – Vulnerable): one flushed from a small water hole in the dry deciduous forest, on early morning of 29 January, south of Kamlot village. Surprisingly, this was the only observation.
- Sarus Crane Grus antigone (Globally Threatened – Vulnerable): not recorded, but species recognized and mentioned as present by a few people; the species is probably only visiting the area in very small number, and possibly only during the breeding season.
- Giant Ibis Thaumatibis gigantea (Globally Threatened – Critical): on 30 January, distant call heard before dawn, from Boeng Veal Srae; later same morning, one bird flushed from the southeast corner of Tropeang Lopieng; on 31 January, two birds landing to feed at the same site around 7:00am and observed until 8:30am; a third bird distantly calling. From these sightings plus the familiarity of most interviewed villagers with the species, the area definitely supports a population of 10 birds or more. Further work should be conducted later in the dry season when birds will concentrate to remaining wetlands (Tropeang Lopieng becoming perhaps the main if not the only feeding site), as well as during the breeding season to locate nesting sites.
- Indochinese Silvered Langur Trachypithecus germaini (Globally Threatened – Endangered): parents with one young seen in semi-evergreen forest near the Kompong Saom riverbank, along the trail leading to Tropeang Lopieng, on 31 January.