Two types of birds and one species of monkey native to Cambodia have had their survival prospects worsen significantly in the past year, according to the World Conservation Union’s 2007 “Red List,” the most comprehensive annual assessment of the world’s endangered animals and plants,
The red-headed vulture and the Bengal florican—once abundant in Cambodia—have been re-classified as critically endangered, meaning they face an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild in the immediate future.
The douc monkey has also been elevated to endangered status worldwide, according to the World Conservation Union, or IUCN.
Included on the “Red List” are 26 animals, fish and plants found in Cambodia, which are listed as critically endangered, and some 36 species listed as endangered.
According to the report, recent worldwide declines in the population of red-headed vultures are believed mainly to have been caused by the pharmaceutical Diclofenac, which is used to treat livestock but toxic to vultures that feed on their carcasses. There could be as few as 300 of the vultures remaining in all of Southeast Asia, the report states.
The Bengal florican has declined to as few as 900 birds in Cambodia and could be extinct in the country within five years, according to the report. And the douc monkey also faces a very high risk of extinction in the near future, the report states.
Tom Evans, technical adviser for the Wildlife Conservation Society, said the decline of the red-headed vulture in Cambodia was mainly due to less carrion on the ground than poisoning.
In fact, Diclofenac is not used in Cambodia, which could mean there is a good chance for the species to begin to recover its numbers here, Evans said.
“A lot of the right things are being done to protect these birds but it will take a few years of this before any significant recovery could be seen,” he said.
Evans added that he was surprised that more animal species native to Cambodia had not had their status upgraded to a more critical level.