CONTACT: SCOTT SMITH: (1-718-220-3698; ssautner@wcs.org)

STEPHEN SAUTNER: (1-718-220-3682; ssautner@wcs.org

Waterbirds Make Dramatic Comeback to Cambodia Wetlands

  • New surveys reveal flourishing populations of pelicans, ibis and storks
  • Prek Toal Core Area is the premier freshwater wetland site on the Tonle Sap Great Lake
  • Prek Toal was designated a Ramsar site last October
  • Increased protection has reduced illegal hunting

IMAGES: Painted storks in Prek Toal; Camera trap pic of lounging smooth coated otter in Prek Toal.  CREDIT: Sun Visal/WCS

Link to hi res images and map

Read the report

NEW YORK (January 22, 2016) – WCS reports a dramatic comeback for several spectacular waterbird species, otters, and other wildlife living in Prek Toal a newly designated Ramsar site on Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Great Lake. 

Wildlife surveys have shown that species like lesser and greater adjutant storks, spot-billed pelicans, and Asian openbills have increased along with silver langur and two otter species. More than 400 breeding pairs of lesser adjutant storks were recorded, while both the spot-billed pelican and Asian openbill had record breeding years in 2014 when the surveys were made.

Prek Toal is considered to be the premier wetland site on Tonle Sap Great Lake, and last year was designated a RAMSAR site – an international treaty on the protection of globally important wetlands.

The increase in wildlife began in the early 2000’s when bird hunters were converted to nest protection rangers. In 2012, institutional changes relating to fishing access could have led to increases in illegal activity that would have threatened wildlife. However, an increase in protective measures such as platform-based waterbird monitoring and stream protection meant that the wildlife remained and flourished.

Camera trapping confirmed that both hairy-nosed and smooth-coated otter occur throughout the core area in good numbers, as a result of protection of the bird colony and dry-season streams.

The greater adjutant stork population remained around 150 pairs, which although low, makes it the largest colony of this species worldwide. A range of other bird species was recorded, including the endangered masked finfoot.

WCS has provided financial and technical support to the Ministry of Environment to manage Prek Toal for more than a decade.

The full results of the surveys appear in a report: “Wildlife Monitoring at Prek Toal Ramsar Site, Tonle Sap Great Lake 2013-2014” by Sun Visal and Simon Mahood of WCS’s Cambodia Program.

WCS’s work in this region has been supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development, Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund.


WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society)

MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in nearly 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit: newsroom.wcs.org Follow: @WCSNewsroom. For more information: 347-840-1242.

The MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society. More information is at www.macfound.org.