PHNOM PENH, March 6 (Xinhua) -- Conservationists have found six white-shouldered ibis nests so far this year in north Cambodia's Preah Vihear province, a Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) said in a press release on Tuesday.
The nests were spotted in Tmatbouy village in the Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary and they are being protected under a safeguarding project which is a key step forward to prevent extinction, the release said.
The white-shouldered ibis is listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as Critically Endangered and they persist only in Cambodia, Laos and Indonesia, it said.
The release added that Cambodia hosts the majority of the global population, where breeding populations now remain in the northern and eastern regions of the country.
It added that the global population of this species has declined significantly and currently, there are less than 1,000 individuals remaining globally.
The release said the Tmatbouy forests are home to approximately 50 white-shouldered ibis, representing 5 percent of the global population. However, land clearance, logging, hunting and poisoning continue to put the species at high risk.
"We are very excited to find the white-shouldered ibis nests because they are target species for birding tourists who visit Tmatbouy," said Dep Kimon, head of Tmatbouy Community Protected Area ecotourism sub-committee.
"Since 2013, on average 240 tourists have visited Tmatbouy every year to observe the white-shouldered and giant ibises, and other birds," he said. "We are committed to protect these species because they offer hope that we can generate long-term sustainable income from wildlife conservation."
Rours Vann, Wildlife Research Team leader for WCS and the Ministry of Environment, said the forests around Tmatbouy village are a very important habitat for the breeding of the ibises in Cambodia.