PHNOM PENH, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- Six nests of the globally vulnerable lesser adjutant stork were found for the first time in the north of Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary in Cambodia, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Cambodia said in a press release on Tuesday.
The nests were spotted last month by the wildlife monitoring team of WCS and the Ministry of Environment, the release said.
"It is the first time that this globally vulnerable species has been found breeding in this protected area," it said.
The lesser adjutant (Leptoptilos javanicus) is a large stork with more than one meter in height and a wingspan exceeding two meters.
Despite a global upper population estimate of 10,000, these birds are experiencing rapid population declines and their range is undergoing widespread contraction throughout Asia, the release said, adding that as a result, the lesser adjutant is listed as "vulnerable" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
Lesser adjutants nest colonially, preferring the tallest trees in a habitat consisting of a patchwork of deciduous dipterocarpus, semi-evergreen and evergreen forests, the release said.
The Eastern and Northern Plains of Cambodia boasts some of the best remaining examples of this highly threatened mosaic habitat, it added.
Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary encompasses a total area of 292,690 hectares in eastern Cambodia.
"Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary is an important habitat for these vulnerable species for surviving and breeding, due to the presence of dry forests, grasslands and wetlands in which they can feed on fish, frogs, reptiles, snails and small mammals," said Sot Vandoeun, WCS's wildlife monitoring coordinator.
"Currently, deforestation has been a threat to, and severely affecting, the nesting habitat of lesser adjutant, particularly during the breeding season. Thus, protecting their nesting sites is very important to ensure the survival of this rare species," he said.