Contributing Monkie Sarah Backhouse
Published on April 17, 2008
From poachers to rangers, a tale of 30 men who help seven species of rare waterbirds enjoy a population comeback of epic proportions. Sounds like the synopsis of a Hollywood blockbuster, but it’s actually real life.
A new report by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) reveals that the population of several rare waterbirds from Cambodia’s Tonlé Sap region have rebounded due to a novel project which employs former hunters and egg collectors as park rangers to provide 24-hour protection and monitoring to the breeding bird colonies. The birds include varieties of storks, ibises and pelicans — some of which have enjoyed a 20-fold increase in population since 2001. “This is an amazing success story for the people and wildlife of Cambodia,” said Colin Poole, Wildlife Conservation Society director for Asia Programs (via ScienceDaily). “It also shows how important local people are in the conservation of wildlife in their own backyards.”
Pre-2001, harvesting of eggs and chicks had left “the largest, and in some cases, the only breeding populations of seven Globally Threatened large waterbird species in Southeast Asia” on the brink of extinction. Now the total number of breeding pairs has grown from 2,500 in 2001 to 10,000 in 2007.
Good news for birds and poachers-turned-rangers alike. I bet their job satisfaction has soared like the flight of rare waterbird. I better get this registered with the Writers Guild ASAP, because a feel-good story like this doesn’t come along everyday.