The Cambodian conservationist group will mark the International Vulture Awareness Day on Saturday to attract more participation to vulture protection as the world population of vulture keeps decreasing.

The first Saturday in September each year is designated as International Vulture Awareness Day and is a way to show our appreciation for vultures and the ecosystem services they provide, according to Ministry of Environment’s Secretary of State and Spokesperson H.E. Neth Pheaktra.

“This is the sixth time that Cambodia has celebrated International Vulture Awareness Day. Cambodia participated in celebrating this day for the first time in 2016, as this day has been celebrated since 2006,” he underlined.

Vultures are a charismatic and ecologically vital group of birds. An often under looked species, they provide critically important ecosystem services by cleaning up carcasses and other organic waste in the environment. As nature’s clean-up crew, they prevent the spread of diseases from decomposing carcasses, reducing pathogenic risks to humans.

Over the world, vultures have been placed under severe threat in recent years, particularly due to poisoning. Globally, 75 percent of all vultures are threatened with extinction according to the IUCN Red List. During the 1990s, vulture populations in South Asia declined by 99 percent over a single decade due to poisoning by diclofenac, a Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drug (NSAID) used to treat cattle.

In Cambodia, there are three vulture species–red-headed vulture, slender-billed vulture and white-rumped vulture. These three vulture species are under threats such as habitat loss, lack of food and poisoning.

The Slender-billed Vulture is 81 to 103 cm tall, with a sand-colored body, black head and neck. Dark overall, with pale underparts. The Red-headed Vulture is 76 to 86 cm tall, has a black body, red head and legs, white thighs and a white line running through the wings. Females have black eyes, males have yellow eyes. The White-rumped vulture is 75 to 85 cm tall. The adults have white backs, a white collar on the neck and white at the underside of the wings. The body is dark. Now they are found in Preah Vihear, Stung Treng, Kratie, Rattanakiri and Mondulkiri provinces of Cambodia with a total population of between 120 and 140 only.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press

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