A Rice Project Supports Giant Ibis Conservation in Stung Treng Province

AKP Phnom Penh, The farmers in Khek Svay village in Stung Treng's Siem Pang district will help conserve Cambodia's national bird, the giant ibis, and its forest home Western Siem Pang Wildlife Sanctuary.

According to a joint press release of BirdLife International Cambodia Programme and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) issued this morning, those farmers will join the conservation by selling their rice crop into a premium rice scheme known as Ibis Rice which aims to increase household income and reduce food insecurity. In return, villagers must respect the wildlife sanctuary laws.

The Ibis Rice is operated by BirdLife International Cambodia Programme, with funding from the Darwin Initiative and the MacArthur Foundation, in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment and the Stung Treng Department of Environment to safeguard the 150,000 ha Western Siem Pang Wildlife Sanctuary in Stung Treng province. The wildlife sanctuary supports a range of species threatened with extinction including 20 percent of the world population of the giant ibis and 50 percent of the world population of the white-shouldered ibis. These species are now found only in Cambodia. Encroachment, logging and hunting threaten this protected area and its wildlife.

Mr. Nicholas Spencer, Ibis Rice CEO, said the project was launched in 2009 and 500,000 hectares of forest and wetlands have been protected, more than 50 endangered animal species have been conserved, and the incomes of 1,000 rice-farming families have been increased.

Mr. Ty Srun, BirdLife's Site Manager at Siem Pang, said this is the first year of the scheme in Siem Pang district and Khek Svay was the pilot village with 43 families participating.

We are confident that once other villagers see how much more participating households receive for their IBIS Rice, the number of families joining the scheme will quickly increase, he underlined.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press