By Van Roeun
the cambodia daily
Provincial authorities in Banteay Meanchey province have begun cracking down on the hunting of endangered cranes after farmers killed 30 of the birds in a protected reserve.
The farmers killed the red-headed eastern sarus cranes for food, not realizing the birds were a protected species, said Banteay Meanchey Governor Thach Khorn. Authorities have gone to the area to educate villagers about protecting the birds, he said.
“We have already gone down there and asked the villagers to sign contracts saying they will not hunt any wild birds, especially cranes,” the governor said.
The 1.3-meter tall cranes are said to be the world’s tallest flying bird. Wildlife experts estimate less than 1,500 of the cranes are in existence. The cranes also frequent Kompong Thom province.
Men Phymen, director of the Wildlife Protection Office at the Forestry Department, said the bird population has risen due to public education and an effective crackdown on hunting.
He said the birds have become so numerous in some places that families have complained about the cranes eating their rice seed.
In November 1999, the Council of Ministers agreed to seek a royal decree to protect the cranes in the 100,000-hectare conservation area in the Trapaing Thmar reservoir in Phnom Srok district. The decree came a year after the International Crane Foundation and wildlife officials discovered about 100 cranes there. About 180 of the cranes can be seen in the preserve every year between June and July, Men Phymen said.