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The Babbler May, 2006 Number 17

* Welcome Jonathan C. Eames

* Features

Searching for the kouprey: trail runs cold for Cambodia's national animal A rare wetland of the Lower Mekong Basin

* Regional news China urged to end illegal timber imports News drug offers vulture lifeline An initial GIS analysis of forest categorisation in Vietnam Rare galliformes stamp set launched on 1st April

* Important Bird Area News * Rarest of the rare Pink-headed Duck

* Project updates Cambodia activities Vietnam activities Myanmar activities

* Spotlight Organization FREDA

* Publications * Book reviews * Staff news * From the Archives BirdLife International in Indochina #4/209, Doi Can, Hanoi, Vietnam Tel: + 84 4 722 3864 Fax: + 84 4 722 3835 Email: birdlife@birdlife.netnam.vn www.birdlifeindochina.org The Babbler is compiled and edited by Dang Nguyen Hong Hanh. If you have any contribution or suggestion for the next issue, please contact Hanh@birdlife.netnam.vn by 1st June.

BirdLife International in Indochina CAMBODIAN FLORICAN CRISIS

Over the last dry season the slow rate of conversion of grasslands around the Ton Le Sap Lake has suddenly accelerated as a result of the Government of Cambodia’s recent decision to endorse the commercial production of dry season paddy in the inundation zone of the World’s greatest flood-plain lake. Many of these extensive anthropogenic, seasonally inundated, biodiversity rich grasslands are Important Bird Areas (IBAs). These major changes will have serious implications for the conservation of the globally Endangered Bengal Florican, since these grasslands currently support most of the global population. Many IBAs important for Floricans have been effected and the changes are dramatic: Work recently undertaken in Kompong Thom and Siem Riep Provinces by WCS has revealed that at least 50% of Stoung Chikreng IBA has been lost, and more than 90% of Veal Srangai. Although sanctioned in the name of promoting the “wealth of the nation,” these rice paddy developments are commercial undertakings and it is believed the rice produced will go mainly for export and do little to promote domestic food security. These developments can also be viewed in the context of the wider “land-grab” which is in full swing across the entire country. The grasslands around the Great Lake have been communally owned for generations and the developer’s greed and blatant lawbreaking is opposed by many local communities and provincial government officials alike, since it threatens a traditional way of life that has been proved to be good for people and wildlife alike. Herein lies the kernel of the WCS idea to promote the establishment of Integrated Farming and Biodiversity Areas (IFBAs). BirdLife endorses this approach as the only practical short term solution to the crisis: If we don’t act rapidly all the Florican habitat in the inundation zone may be lost this year. Of course, this response may be seen in time not to have been built on the best ecological arguments but right now there seems no alternative. WCS have already obtained a great deal of official support for this idea, and it now awaits final endorsement from on high. If these areas are sanctioned and granted legal status they will need funding and technical support to maintain their conservation importance. BirdLife stands ready to provide this support. Whilst the statutory and NGO conservation bodies must now scramble for a rapid response to ensure the remaining areas are not lost, there are lessons to be learnt from our activities in these areas to date: The pioneering community based work undertaken by WCS and BirdLife at some of these IBAs, which variously focused on measures to reduce hunting and nest loss, and the promotion of community management, have been swept aside by the Prime Minister at the stroke of his pen. BirdLife’s Site-support Group at Stoung Chikreng was simply too weak to exert any local influence and simply had the land pulled from under its feet. Arguably, conservation bodies like BirdLife should have been working more closely with government and donors to discourage such a land-use policy change in the first place. Indeed, BirdLife believes that leveraging support from the bilateral and multilateral donors in Cambodia with a shared interest in the Ton Le Sap lake will prove a key route in achieving long-term conservation gains for grasslands and other threatened habitats in Cambodia. Finally, before we declare this another lost conservation cause, consider this; the Ton Le Sap grasslands are man-made: If destroyed, they can be re-established. This is also not the first time there has been attempts at growing irrigated paddy within the Great Lake’s inundation zone. The occupying Vietnamese promoted it after their 1978 invasion and many of these areas have reverted to grasslands suitable for Floricans. So it failed then and perhaps it will fail now.

Jonathan C. Eames Programme Manager BirdLife International in Indochina


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Features Searchȱforȱtheȱkouprey:ȱtrailȱrunsȱcoldȱforȱCambodia’sȱnationalȱ animal A recent study by wildlife researcher Lic Vuthy has reiterated dire assumptions about the existence of Cambodia's fabled national animal - the kouprey. In The Existence of the Kouprey in Cambodia, published in the Forestry Administration's annual report, Vuthy analyzed more than six decades of reports and field studies to discern the status of the semi-mythical forest ox once described as "Southeast Asia's version of the Loch Ness monster." His findings - although hardly surprising - are enormously unfortunate. Vuthy concluded that the last proven sighting of a kouprey was in 1983, and that the species completely vanished some time during the late 1980s. The report echoes the opinions of international wildlife experts who have been skeptical about the animal's survival for many years. "It is highly likely and probable that kouprey are biologically extinct in the wild," said Hunter Weiler, adviser to the Department of Forestry and Wildlife. "The best case scenario is that there is a handful of individuals scattered around, dying one by one. I think the kouprey is probably gone, but you can't confirm a negative." But Vuthy's grim report, which represents the least positive government-sponsored assessment to date, has been disputed within the Forestry Administration and by a government that has been reluctant to tackle an indelicate question: what does a country do if its national animal becomes extinct? "Lic Vuthy's report does not have enough information," Forestry official Chheang Dany told the Post. "I believe the kouprey is still alive. In fact, we have just sent a team of 30 experts to Rattanakkiri to investigate. They will complete their study by August." "Most people in the government don't want to believe that the kouprey is gone. It's an emotional and political decision, not one based on fact," Weiler said. "It's kind of like the abominable snowman and a lot of other things - there is a lot faith and ingrained belief behind it but no cold, hard evidence."

Mystery and mishap nothing new Controversy, mystery and mishap are nothing new for the elusive kouprey. Since it was identified by Western science in 1937, the species' tragicomic history has included heavily armed expeditions, a billion-dollar genetic jackpot - and heartpounding peril. The search for the stealthy mammal has lured journalists, scientists, big game hunters and adventurers. Over the years, the infrequent forays into the kouprey's war-torn region have been met with disease, land mines, gunplay and, for the most part, frustration. In Quest for the Kouprey, a definitive 1995 article on the subject, author Steve Hendrix wrote "the most painful of all [has been] the excruciating near-successes of fresh tracks, second-hand reports and botched captures. To show for it all, science has amassed a kouprey collection amounting to little more than a couple hundred pounds of bones and a few feet of grainy film footage." "It's a bit like looking for the Yeti or Bigfoot, this animal," British biologist James MacKinnon said after his own efforts to locate a kouprey. "First, it was just

The Babbler - May 2006

Dr. Charles H Wharton, a US conservationist, who in 1951 le a 90-man group-including 60 government soldiers- on a two – month excursion in the Choam Ksan and Koh Ke are of Preah Vihear and Siem Reap provinces. He caught on film six separate group of kouprey – the only existing footage. Wharton estimated that there were then roughly 400 to 500 head of kouprey west of Mekong, 200 to 300 in Lomphat wildlife sanctuary and 50 in the Samrong district of Kratie province.


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extremely rare and then it was shrouded in mystery through 30 years of warfare. It's become sort of a symbol of conservation in Indochina." The most successful kouprey specialist was the late Dr Charles H Wharton, a US conservationist better known for his book Natural Environments of Georgia. A World Wildlife Federation report claims "The best, most complete field data on the kouprey was obtained by Charles Wharton in field work in the 1950s." But Wharton's 2003 obituary in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution made no mention of his pivotal role in one of Cambodia's greatest mysteries. In 1951 Wharton led a 90-man group - including 60 government soldiers-on a two-month excursion in the Choam Ksan and Koh Ke areas of Preah Vihear and Siem Reap provinces. He caught on film six separate groups of kouprey -the only existing footage. Wharton estimated that there were roughly 400 to 500 head of kouprey west of the Mekong, 200 to 300 in Lomphat wildlife sanctuary and 50 in the Samrong district of Kratie province. According to wildlife experts almost everything known about kouprey behavior stems from Wharton's visits and the resulting 1957 film The Forest Cattle Survey Expedition to Southeast Asia - a tour de force of nature documentaries. According to Vuthy's report, after accepting the film from Wharton in 1964, Prince Norodom Sihanouk "designated the kouprey as Cambodia's National Animal and declared Kulen Prum Tep, Lomphat and Phnom Prich as wildlife sanctuaries for kouprey conservation." The same year, Wharton launched an unlucky mission to capture live kouprey for captive breeding. He was able to capture five, but lost them all: two died and three escaped. "It's amazing the bad luck, the problems that have surrounded the kouprey," Wharton said in an interview with International Wildlife magazine. "It's almost like the thing has some sort of an ancient spell over it that man is not to learn about or capture this animal. Turmoil between the 1960s and 1980s halted kouprey expeditions. In 1982, a group was spotted near the Thai border, but according to Vuthy the search effort was called off after a land mine critically injured the group's guide.

The most eccentric hunt The most eccentric - and heavily armed - hunt for the animal came in 1994. Former Post reporter Nate Thayer led a motley band of 26 mercenaries, armed soldiers and journalists - including Ker Munthit of AP, Michael Hayes of the Post and British photographer Tim Page - into Cambodia's remote northeast. In a subsequent Post article Thayer wrote "After compiling a team of expert jungle trackers, scientists, security troops, elephant mahouts and one of the most motley and ridiculous looking groups of armed journalists in recent memory, we marched cluelessly into Khmer Rouge-controlled jungles along the old Ho Chi Minh trail." The two-week, 150 km field survey - called the Cambodian Kourpey Research Project - made no sightings of kouprey but estimated optimistically that evidence suggested a herd of fewer than a dozen still existed in a small region of Mondulkiri. "There were several early casualties from heat prostration and other manifestations of badly-out-of-shape bodies addled by long histories of drug and alcohol abuse," wrote Thayer, who funded the $30,000 expedition. The last kouprey survey was led by Weiler in January 1999, along the Sre Pok river. Again the trip yielded no evidence of kouprey but did result in a film, Search for the Kouprey. "To my knowledge, that was the last kouprey-specific expedition," Weiler said. "I personally think, and many NGOs agree, Kouprey searches are a waste of time and money. Any areas it was in the past or might still be have been surveyed within the last decade and are looked over almost monthly."

Key dates in the hunt for an elusive beast 1937: The kouprey (Bos sauveli) species is "discovered" by the director of Vincennes Zoo in Paris after a calf captured in Preah Vihear province grows into an animal unknown to Western science. It is the last large mammal on earth to be given a new classification until 1992. The only kouprey studied in captivity, it starves to death during the World War II German occupation of France. 1940: Harvard University published a report that defines the kouprey as genetically separate from all other known mammals and belonging to its own genus. The report claims that the kouprey is a Pleistocene ancestor of domestic cattle. 1951: US biologist Dr Charles H Wharton leads a 90-man expedition into Cambodia and studies a dozen different groups of kouprey on film. The brief observations form the basis of modern knowledge about kouprey behaviour. Wharton estimates 500 kouprey exist in the wild. 1964: Head of State Prince Norodom Sihanouk, who kept a kouprey in the Royal Gardens as a child, declares the kouprey Cambodia's national animal, and designates sanctuaries in Preah Vihear, Ratanakkiri, and Mondulkiri. Also in 1964, Wharton leads a disastrous mission to capture kouprey for captive breeding; his crew captures five and then loses them all - two die and three escape.

The Babbler - May 2006


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1965-1967: World Wildlife Fund (France) former president Pierre Pfeffer makes five extensive expeditions to Indochina, during which he observes several herds of around 15 kouprey and obtains the only still photograph of the animal on record. These are the last recorded kouprey sightings by a scientist. 1975-1979: A wild-meat supplier tells a government researcher that, during the war, he killed six kouprey from a population of 30 in Preah Vihear. 1982: A small herd of kouprey is spotted along Cambodia's border in Thailand. A massive search is forced to turn back when a tripped landmine injures the guide and the follow-up government expedition concludes the kouprey returned to Cambodia. 1988: An International Workshop on the Kouprey Conservation Program is held in Hanoi during January, attended by researchers and donors from around the world. Workshop guesstimates suggest 27 kouprey remain in Vietnam, 40 to 100 in Laos, and fewer than 200 in Cambodia. An action plan, prepared and published by two major wildlife conservation groups, calls for surveys in all three countries. 1989-90: Surveys take place in Daklak Province and in southern Laos, with negative results. University of Hanoi biologist Ha Dinh Duc conducts a search along Cambodia's border with Vietnam but the work is cut short when the group comes under fire from Vietnam exiles. Duc is shot from the back of an elephant but survives with wounds to the face and chest. 1994: Journalist Nate Thayer leads the first full-scale ground hunt for kouprey in eastern Cambodia, which is unsuccessful. At the same time, the Cambodia Wildlife protection office and several NGOs sponsor an aerial survey for kouprey in eastern Cambodia. A total of 5,238 sq km is surveyed, involving 34.7 hours flying, but no success. 1995: Noel Vietmeyer, a National Academy of Science specialist in finding economic value in tropical fauna, tells International Wildlife Magazine " [The kouprey] is the holy grail. It's probably the most genetically valuable species on earth... Here's an animal with thousands of years of survivability in the harshest habitats built into it, one that could improve the lot of half of the domestic cattle on earth, maybe all of them..." 1999: Wildlife Protection Office international adviser and kouprey enthusiast Hunter Weiler conducts an official expedition to Eastern Mondulkiri with the Wildlife Protection Office. Documented on film, it results in a movie, Search for the Kouprey, but no kouprey sightings are recorded. He prepares a paper on the status of wild cattle in Cambodia, which states, "The author reluctantly concurs with the local officials and hunters - the kouprey is finished." 2000-2006: Extensive general wildlife surveys involving camera trapping are carried out in the kouprey's former range. The surveys, conducted by the Wildlife Protection Office and Ministry of Environment, find no kouprey. 2001: Deputy Director of the Wildlife Protection Office Men Soriyun publishes Status and Distribution of Wild Cattle in Cambodia in Tiger Paper. Regarding kouprey, he concludes "it is highly unlikely that any breeding population still occurs and the species should be considered effectively extinct in the wild." 2004: The Cambodian government officially redesignates the kouprey the National Animal. 2005: A full-size statue of a kouprey is placed near Wat Phnom. Former forestry administration researcher Lic Vuthy releases an exhaustive review of all available kouprey reports, including interviews with ex-hunters, and concludes that the last credible first-hand reports of kouprey sightings in Cambodia occurred in the 1980s. All subsequent reports have been second and third-hand anecdotes. 2006: Hunter Weiler tells the Post further grants of funds for kouprey-specific surveys "open the door for wasting scarce conservation money on all sorts of half-baked safaris to go out anywhere in former kouprey range... with little realistic possibility of finding anything."

Text by Charles McDermid and Cheang Sokha, Phnom Penh Post, Volume 15, Number 8, April 21- May 4, 2006

The Babbler - May 2006


SPECIAL REPORTS

BOEUNG PREK LAPOUV, TAKEO PROVINCE, CAMBODIA:

A Rare Wetland of the Lower Mekong Basin 

By Tran Triet, University of Natural Sciences, Vietnam and International Crane Foundation, USA

Introduction cated in the southeast corner of These protected areas are all located Takeo Province, on the west side of overing an area of roughly in the downstream part and may not the Bassac River, belonging to two five million hectares, the represent all different freshwater wetdistricts namely Koh Andeth and Mekong River Delta is a vast land habitats of the Mekong Delta. Borei Chulsar. Field observations wetland complex, consisting of many Other remnant wetlands of high conmade during the survey suggested different types of wetland ecosystems, servation values, especially those that that the Takeo grassland might play from coastal salt and brackish to have not been well represented in an important role in wetland conserinland freshwater wetlands. Of the existing protected areas should be vation in the Lower Mekong Basin total area of land and water surlocated and preserved (Triet et. al. as it represented seasonally inunface, approximately four million are 2000). dated grasslands of the upper part in Vietnam and one million in CamIn 1998, satellite tracking data of the Mekong Delta - a wetland bodia. Wetlands of the Mekong collected under a joint research ecosystem that has been almost Delta have long been used and project between the International eradicated elsewhere in the Mekong altered by people. Most of the seaCrane Foundation (ICF) (Wisconsin, Delta (Tran Triet, 2001a). sonally inundated grasslands of the USA) and the Yamashina Institute in Two other surveys (in November Vietnam part of the Mekong Delta Japan revealed that a flock of Sarus 2001 and May 2002), were conhave been turned into farmland, cranes (Grus antigone sharpii) stayed ducted by ICF and UNS in collabomostly rice paddies. The developin a grassland area on Takeo Provration with the Wildlife Conservation ment took place in the last 10 to 15 ince, Cambodia, near the border Society-Cambodia Programme, years at a very fast pace without with Vietnam, during the dry season. Birdlife International-Cambodia proper concerns for habitat and That information led to an aerial reProgramme, Wildlife Protection biodiversity conservation. The result connaissance followed by a ground Office-Cambodia, Ministry of Enviis a massive surplus of rice and a survey conducted in March 2001 by ronment-Cambodia and the Royal tremendous loss of wetlands and the the ICF and the University of Natural University of Agriculture, Phnom associated biological diversity. ReSciences (UNS) - Ho Chi Minh City. Penh, Cambodia. The main objeccent instability of the international rice The team found approximately tive of these surveys was to gather market has badly affected rice-pro17,000 ha of natural wetlands loducing farmers in the Mekong Delta. As the price of exporting rice plummeted, Mekong Delta farmers painfully watched their income from rice production shrink. Fortunately, a few remnant wetlands were protected, such as the Tram Chim National Park (7,600 ha) in Dong Thap Province and several other smaller wetland protected areas in Long An and Kien Giang Province, Vietnam. Figure 1. Location of Boeung Prek Lapouv Sarus Crane Conservation Area.

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Figure 2. A Landsat ETM image of Boeung Prek Lapouv area, taken on 7 February 2003 (False color composite 4,3,2. UTM zone 48, WGS84).

more data on hydrology, vegetation, water birds and wetland resource utilisation of the area. The wet season survey in November 2001 revealed that wetlands there supported extensive mats of floating vegetation – a type of wetland vegetation that is extremely rare in the Mekong Delta (Tran Triet and Seng Kim Hout, 2001). Previously, floating vegetation also occurred in the Plain of Reeds, but had become totally extinct due mainly to changes in wetland hydrology caused by the development of intensive irrigation channels (Ngan et. al., 1985; Le Cong Kiet, 1993; Tran Triet, 1999). Since 2001, the Wildlife Protection Office of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery-Cam-

bodia, with support from Birdlife International-Cambodia Programme has coordinated efforts to seek protection status for the area. A proposed boundary was established encompassing an area of 9,250 ha (Figures 1 and 2); the area was named the Boeung Prek Lapouv Sarus Crane Conservation Area (S. Austin, Birdlife International-Cambodia Programme, pers. comm.). Hydrology Boeung Prek Lapouv (BPL) is located on the floodplain southern side of the Bassac Channel. Not much is known about the hydrology of the area, but the following general pattern can be recognised. At the beginning of the flood season,

BPL received water mainly from the over-bank flow of the Bassac and partly from local rainfall and sheet flow from the adjacent higher lands. As measured in November 2001, floodwater depth was about three meters in the grasslands and about four meters or deeper in depressed areas (lotus and water lily swamps). BPL was generally low in Electrical Conductivity (638 – 770 ìS/cm) neutral in pH (6.77 – 6.25) and high in Dissolved Oxygen (5.1 – 7.1 mg/ l). Floodwater receded via sheet flow to the Ha Tien Plain in Vietnam and eventually to the Gulf of Thailand. BPL is flooded and becomes dry earlier than the downstream part of the Mekong Delta. Floodwater also rises and falls faster in BPL as compared to areas further downstream. , Unlike the Bassac Marsh, which is almost inundated all year round, BPL is quite dry during the dry season except for numerous small streams and ponds located within the area. Located near the main river channel and away from the sea, BPL’s soils are not as acidic, nor as saline as those of the Ha Tien Plain or the Plain of Reeds. Those soil and water conditions support a type of floating vegetation, which is now quite rare in the Mekong Delta. Vegetation In the wet season, the whole area of the Takeo grassland is a floating mat of vegetation. There are more than 30 aquatic plant species found in the floating mat. The following species are most commonly seen: Echinochloa stagnina, Polygonum tomentosum, Ipomoea aquatica, Hymenachne acutigluma, Leersia hexandra and Pseudoraphis brunoniana. The living mass of these plants forms the main component of the floating mat. Echinochloa and Hymenachne stems measured up to 10 meters long. Common plant species, but of lesser abundance, in the floating mat are: Oryza rufipogon, Ischaemum rugosum, Ludwigia adscendens, Commelina


SPECIAL REPORTS sp., Salvinia cucullata, Eichhornia crassipes, Cyperus iria, Monochoria hastate, Nymphoides indica, Sacciolepis interrupta and Paspalum scrobiculatum. The major plants that form floating mats have adopted an interesting habit to help them cope with fast rising floodwater. When floodwater receded, floating mats lay on the ground. In dry and hot conditions, biomass from the previous year decomposed quickly and provided available nutrients for new shoots that re-sprouted from old stems. The new shoots rooted mostly on the loose semi-decomposed mats and did not anchor firmly on the ground soil. The whole mat was then ready to float again when the next floodwaters came. Some plant species germinated when floodwater dropped to a suitable level and then grew quickly, completing their life cycle within the dry part of the year. These plants often have shorter stature than when they grew in “less difficult” environmental settings. There are also other strategies that help plant species to adapt to flooding conditions; some plants develop structures such as float devices (Ludwigia adcendens) and large hollow stem (many species of grass); some grow adventitious roots at water surface level, and some stems elongate fast enough to stay above water. Large woody trees were not seen, except cultivated trees planted along dykes or in some artificial high grounds. Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) and water lily (Nymphaea spp.) swamps occurred commonly in the grassland. These are depressed areas that still hold water in the dry season. Many of these lotus-water lily swamps were connected by small streams that formed a network of dry season water bodies. Large mats of water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) were seen in open water areas near the Koh Andet District. These water hyacinth mats were probably moved from Takeo and Bassac Rivers by floodwater. In the

grassland area, however, water hyacinth was found only in small clumps. The exotic weed Mimosa pigra was seen quite often in the BPL grassland. This is a highly invasive weed, which is currently a major threat to many tropical wetland systems. The characteristics of seasonally inundated grassland in Takeo are quite different from those of downstream areas. Grasslands of the Plain of Reeds and of the Ha Tien Plain are now mostly emergent vegetation; there are no floating vegetables. Plant species composition is characterised by the presence of many acid-tolerant plants such as Eleocharis dulcis, E. ochrostachys, Lepironia articulata, and Xyris indica. Due to the connection with the sea, the downstream areas also have plants that are saltwater-tolerant such as Paspalum vaginatum and Scirpus littoralis. In contrast, plants in Takeo were rarely seen, and salt-tolerant grassland plants were not observed. Floating vegetation was reported to have existed in the Vietnam part of the Mekong Delta before, particularly in the Plain of Reeds (Le Cong Kiet, 1993), but has been eradicated entirely due to habitat loss and hyrdrological changes. A dense network of canals, developed for promoting rice cultivation in Vietnam, tremendously altered the natural hydrological regime in such a way that floating vegetation can no longer be supported. Canals moved water in and out of the floodplains very quickly, resulting in an abrupt change in water level and a much shorter water retention period. Canals facilitated land reclamation and agricultural intensification. As a result, most of the natural grasslands of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam have been lost in the last two decades. Only a small area of grasslands was preserved in Tram Chim National Park and in some smaller protected wetlands. Currently, efforts are being made to conserve remnant grasslands in the Ha Tien Plain, an area

located near the BPL grassland (Tran Triet, 2001b). Birds The Takeo grassland is one of the important dry season areas for the Eastern Sarus crane (Grus antigone sharpii). Satellite tracking data received from cranes captured in Tram Chim National Park in Vietnam in 1998 showed that the Takeo grassland was one of the places where the Sarus crane stopped on their migration from northeastern Cambodia to the Mekong Delta (www.savingcranes.org)/. Bird surveys conducted by Birdlife International in collaboration with various Cambodian agencies confirmed the presence of a large flock of Sarus crane (more than 100 individuals) in BPL (Seng Kim Hout et. al. 2002). A total of 52 bird species was recorded in BPL, including 27 water birds (Seng Kim Hout et. al. 2002). Besides Sarus crane, other birds of special concern are Oriental darter (Anhinga melanogaster), Spot-billed pelican (Pelecanus philippensis) and Painted stork (Mycteria leucocephala); the area is qualified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) because it “regularly holds significant numbers of a globally threatened species, or other species of global conservation concern” (Seng Kim Hout et. al. 2002). In a November 2001 survey, a nesting colony of Grey heron (Ardea cinerea) was found in Pruek Sa Pagoda, located near national Highway No. 2 to Kirivong District, Takeo Province, about 29 km from the Takeo provincial town. Within a few hectares of the Pagoda’s backyard, 155 nests were counted hanging on 34 trees of seven different tree species. Hundreds of Grey herons were observed in the colony (Tran Triet and Seng Kim Hout, 2001). As agricultural intensification continues in the surrounding area, the BPL grassland will become more and more important 29


Photo by Tran Triet, November 2001

SPECIAL REPORTS

Figure 3. Local people collect grasses to feed cattle during the flood season.

to wetland wildlife, particularly water birds. Wetland Management Resource Utilization Fishing is the most important resource activity in the BPL grassland. There are two fishing seasons per year: dry season fishing from January to April and wet season fishing from September to December. The fishermen interviewed in the field reported that each day in the wet season, from 100 to 120 fishing boats were operating in the Takeo grassland. Each boat paid a season fishing license of US$250 to US$350 depending on the location and the type of fishing gears used. Smaller boats, which caught fish by nets or hooks, paid a smaller fee – US$30 to US$50 per season. For dry-season fishing, the area was divided into fishing lots and leased to fishermen. Dry season fishing license fees run from US$200 for small lots on stream sections to US$25,000 for large lots on swamps. People used large motor pumps to pump water out of

swamps, ponds and streams to catch all the fish, including the smallest ones. This fishing practice caused an excessively dry condition, depleted fish stocks and severely affected other aquatic organisms as well as the fauna that depends on these water bodies as sources of food and water. The current practice of dry season fishing seems to be detrimental to wetland life. Takeo authorities should strengthen fishing regulations to prevent such a destructive practice. Besides fishing, collecting grasses, lotus, and water lilies are also important resource utilisation activities. In the wet season, the local communities collect grasses from the Takeo grassland to feed their livestock (Figure 3). Lotus and water lilies (Nymphaea spp.) are also collected and sold in nearby markets in Vietnam. Irrigation Development According to the Agricultural Service of Takeo Province, in 2001 the province had 240,000 ha of rice fields, which could be divided into:

wet season rice fields located mostly in the north and western portion of the province (area: 183,000 ha; average yield: 1.5-2 tons/ha), and dry season rice fields located in the south and east of the province (area: 57,000 ha; average yield: 4-7 tons/ ha) (Tran Triet and Seng Kim Hout, 2001). Before 1984 there was almost no resident in Borei Chulsar District. Since then, however, people from Samrong and Tramkok districts, northwest of the province, have settled in the Borei Chulsar district. The pressure to expand farmland increased as more and more settlers moved in. Since 1995, the Program of Rehabilitation and Support to the Agricultural Sector of Cambodia (PRASAC), funded by the European Union, has been an important instrument to improve rice production in six provinces: Takeo, Kampong Chnang, Kampong Cham, Kampong Speu, Prey Veng and Svay Rieng. Through irrigation development, agricultural extensions and credit programmes, the PRASAC project has significantly increased crop yields and expanded farm


SPECIAL REPORTS lands, thus improving the livelihood of rural communities. In Takeo, Phase one of the PRASAC project (1995 – 1998) dug 110 km of canals, irrigated 20,247 ha of farm lands and facilitated the expansion of 7,000 ha of rice fields, accounting for an extra production of 130,000 tonnes of rice per year. Within the concerned BPL grassland, the PRASAC project dug three large canals: Canal 96, Canal 98 and Canal 92. In Phase two (1999–2003) the PRASAC project will dig another 85 km of canals in Takeo province, including three large canals in the area. The project aims at improving rice yield to eight tons per hectare per year through double rice cropping (Tran Triet and Seng Kim Hout, 2001). The digging of many irrigation canals in and around the proposed BPL protected wetland has serious implications on the management of the area. 1. The canal may drain the area faster and therefore reduce inundation time (which is preferred by rice growers). Shorter inundation would affect the crane’s use of the wetland and severely affect the floating vegetation (through changing the growing period and thus the flowering and fruiting season). 2. Channelised water will increase water turbidity, which in turn will affect aquatic life. When visiting BPL in the flood season, one will easily recognise a marked difference in water turbidity between the BPL grassland and the surrounding areas. Water inside the grassland is very clean compared to the dirty water elsewhere in the area. Increasing water turbidity not only threatens many plankton communities but may also have detrimental impacts on the floating vegetation as it may interfere with the rate of or-

ganic matter decomposition as well as the germination and re-sprouting of aquatic plants. 3. Some proposed canals are located within the boundary of the protected area. They certainly will facilitate agriculture and therefore will make conservation management more difficult, not to mention other human activities that may cause further disturbances to the wildlife of the area. The floating vegetation of BPL is very fragile and when it is broken, the restoration, as experienced in other parts of the Mekong Delta, may very well be impossible. Conclusion The conservation value of BPL is guaranteed by the uniqueness of its wetland ecosystem. It is one of a few remnants of the seasonally inundated grassland, which once covered vast areas of flood plains in the Mekong Delta, and is probably the last extensive remnant of floating vegetation in the area. Conserving the BPL wetland should therefore be of high priority. It may be more productive for Takeo Province not to depend solely on intensive rice agriculture. Instead of reclaiming all of the flood plain areas for rice cultivation, decision makers may consider a model of diversified agriculture that is linked to the conservation of this important wetland area. Maintaining and improving fishing activities, better managed harvesting of other wetland resources, and promoting eco-tourism are among the activities that may help local communities co-exist with the BPL wetland and its wildlife. Acknowledgements The author would like to thank the Department of Forestry and Wildlife of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Department of Nature Conservation of the Ministry of Environment, the Forestry faculty of the Royal University of Agriculture-

This article was first published in 2003. For information on the ongoing attempts by the Cambodia’s Forestry Administration/BirdLife to establish Boeung Prek Lapouv as a protected area see elsewhere in this issue.

Cambodia, the Birdlife InternationalCambodia Programme and the Wildlife Conservation Society- Cambodia Programme for their collaboration during the field surveys. The author is especially thankful to Nguyen Phi Nga (University of Natural Sciences – Ho Chi Minh City) for his valuable field assistance. Funding for the surveys was provided by the John and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Eleanor Briggs. References Le Cong Kiet. 1994. Native Freshwater Vegetation Communities in the Mekong Delta. International Journal of Ecology and Environmental Sciences 20: 55-71. Ngan, P.T., D.T. Dung, N.H. Van, and N.T. Liem, 1985. Vegetation of the Plain of Reeds. State Program 6002. 1986. Basic Survey of the Mekong Delta, Stage I. National Committee of Science and Technology, Hanoi, Vietnam. Seng Kim Hout, Say Sayoeun, Pech Bunnat, Song Chan Socheat and Andrew Tordoff. 2002. A Rapid Field Survey of Three Wetland Sites in Takeo Province, Cambodia. Department of Forestry and Wildlife of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Department of Nature Conservation of the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife Conservation Society and Birdlife International, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Tran Triet. 1999. Freshwater Wetland Vegetation of the Mekong Delta: A Quantitative Study of the Relationship between Plant Species Distribution and the Physical Environment. PhD Dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA. Tran Triet. 2001a. Memos of Takeo Grassland Survey 17-17 March 2001. International Crane Foundation, Wisconsin, USA. Tran Triet (ed). 2001b. Proceedings of the workshop “Conservation and Utilization of Biodiversity Resources of the Ha Tien – Kien Luong Wetlands”, Rach Gia, 17-19 June 2001. College of Natural Sciences, Vietnam National University – Ho Chi Minh City. Tran Triet, R.J. Safford, Tran Duy Phat, Duong Van Ni and E. Maltby. 2000. Wetland Biodiversity Overlooked and Threatened in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam: Grassland Ecosystems in the Ha Tien Plain. Tropical Biodiversity 7(1): 1-24. Tran Triet and Seng Kim Hout 2001. Memos of Takeo Grassland Survey 8-10 November 2001. International Crane Foundation, Wisconsin, USA. ASEAN BIODIVERSITY

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BirdingASIA 4 (2005): 15–22

SPECIAL REPORT

BirdLife in Asia—a 10-year overview RICHARD GRIMMETT This article was commissioned from the BirdLife International Asia Division in order to keep OBC members up-todate with the work of BirdLife in the region. We hope this will inspire many readers to support the BirdLife Partnership in its mission to save the rarest birds of the region and their habitats.—The Editors

The BirdLife Partnership It has been just over a decade since BirdLife International was established, evolving in 1994 from the International Council for Bird Preservation with a history dating back to 1922. BirdLife is a global partnership of independent bird and nature conservation organisations that have come together based on a shared sense of conservation approach and priorities. BirdLife’s global secretariat is based in Cambridge, United Kingdom, with regional offices throughout the world, including a modest one for Asia based in Tokyo. In Asia, the BirdLife Partnership brings together some of the largest and most dynamic conservation organisations in the region—well known and often with close links to OBC—with a combined public membership of over 70,000 (Table 1). In addition, BirdLife country programmes are operational in Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar, and programme activities have recently commenced in China and East Timor. Regionally, the BirdLife Partnership is brought together as the BirdLife Asia Council. This was chaired from 1994 to 2003 by Noritaka Ichida of the Wild Bird Society of Japan, and is now chaired by Lim Kim Keang of Nature Society (Singapore). A number of BirdLife Partners in Europe are also active in supporting work by the Partnership in the region, most notably the Royal Table 1. The BirdLife Partnership in Asia. Territory/ geographical region Organisation Russia Japan Taiwan Hong Kong Philippines Thailand Malaysia Singapore Indonesia Nepal Sri Lanka India Pakistan

Russian Bird Conservation Union (RBCU) Wild Bird Society of Japan (WBSJ) Wild Bird Federation Taiwan (WBST) Hong Kong Birdwatching Society (HKBWS) Haribon Foundation Bird Conservation Society of Thailand (BCST) Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Nature Society (Singapore) (NSS) BirdLife Indonesia Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN) Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka (FOGSL) Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) Ornithological Society of Pakistan (OSP)

Society for the Protection of Birds (BirdLife in the United Kingdom), Vogelbescherming Nederland (BirdLife in the Netherlands), and the Danish Ornithological Society (BirdLife in Denmark). BirdLife’s ten-year strategy, adopted by the Partnership in 2004, has four interrelated themes: saving species, protecting sites, conserving habitats and empowering people. Saving species As a foundation for saving species, it is of course essential to know which species are threatened with extinction, where they occur, their ecological requirements, the threats they face, and the conservation measures previously taken and still required. BirdLife has led the way in Asia by ensuring that this foundation is now firmly in place, with the recent publication of Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001), which reviews in detail the status, distribution and ecology of threatened birds in the region, and of Saving Asia’s threatened birds: a guide for government and civil society (BirdLife International 2003), which, by building directly on the earlier work, sets out clearly the bird and habitat conservation priorities in the region. The Red Data Book work was based on input from thousands of amateur and professional birders and conservationists, and received valuable input and support from OBC and its members. BirdLife’s work on threatened bird species is fed into the official IUCN Red List, and provides a focus for the conservation work of enthusiasts, NGOs, research institutions, and governments across the region. As many OBC readers will know (via, e.g., Collar 2001), the conclusions from this work are depressing: one in eight (12%) of all bird species in the Asian region is globally threatened; a total of 323 bird species are at risk of extinction over the next 100 years. Lowland forest and wetland birds, in particular, are in trouble. These reviews are available, in downloadable format on www.rdb.or.id/ with the Red List kept up-to-date on an annual basis (see: www.birdlife.org/). Over the past decade, BirdLife has taken direct and significant action for over 50 (or just under half) of the Critical and Endangered species


identified in the Red Data Book, and has greatly improved prospects for many of these (Table 2, while not intended to be comprehensive, presents some of the highlights). These are almost all “flagship species”, where conservation benefits

extend to a wider range of other fauna and flora, as well as to threatened habitats more generally. Particularly rewarding has been our work for Black-faced Spoonbill, a flagship species for highly threatened east Asian coastal wetlands; for Javan

Table 2. Critical and Endangered species where BirdLife is making a difference in Asia Species White-eared Night-Heron White-shouldered Ibis Giant Ibis Black-faced Spoonbill

Pink-headed Duck White-rumped, Indian and Slender-billed Vultures

Philippine Eagle Javan Hawk-eagle Orange-necked Partridge Edwards’s Pheasant Imperial Pheasant Red-crowned Crane Okinawa Rail Talaud Rail Great Indian Bustard Bengal Florican Lesser Florican Javanese Lapwing Sociable Lapwing Spoon-billed Sandpiper Jerdon’s Courser Chinese Crested Tern Mindoro Bleeding-heart Wetar Ground Dove Timor Green Pigeon

Action and impact Rediscovered in Vietnam in 2001, resulting in the establishment of the South Xuan Lac Species and Habitat Conservation Area Discovery of largest-known flock at Siem Pang, northern Cambodia, where site conservation work is underway; study of Borneo population supported Rediscovered in Vietnam in 2003; significant new populations discovered at Siem Pang, northern Cambodia, where site conservation work is underway; PhD study on ecology underway in Cambodia Action Plan prepared (Severinghaus et al. 1995); comprehensive research, education and conservation programme implemented; population now 1475 birds from a low of around 300 in the early 1990s as a result of improved knowledge and a genuine increase in numbers; revised Action Plan in preparation Search underway in Myanmar Regional and Cambodia Action Plans in place; supplementary feeding and satellite tracking underway in Cambodia; research into impact of diclofenac, as well as suitability of alternative drugs, with Indian government now committed to banning diclofenac; establishment of captive populations as emergency measure, as well as research and monitoring in India; important populations located in Cambodia and Myanmar NGO alliance established in Philippines; site action, surveys and education underway in Luzon Action Plan prepared (Sozer et al. 1998); greatly improved knowledge of status and distribution; nest-site protection and tighter controls on bird trade; increased awareness and interest; strengthening of protected area network in Java Now known from ten sites in Vietnam Now known from four sites in central Vietnam and conservation work underway at all of them Specimen material provided by BirdLife assisted researchers determine the species to be of hybrid origin Crane reserves established and feeding stations maintained by WBSJ in Hokkaido; conservation of other sites improved through Crane Flyway Network Population monitoring, research and protection work in Yambaru Establishment of Karakelang Wildlife Sanctuary Surveys and regular monitoring, and advocacy of conservation measures at state and federal level in India, although population continues to decline Surveys and monitoring and advocacy of conservation measures in protected area management in Indian and Nepal; PhD study underway in Cambodia; IBA Local Conservation Group established at Stung/Chi Kreng IBA, Cambodia Surveys and regular monitoring and advocacy of conservation measures at state and federal level in India Search underway in Java Survey in India; Action Plan underway Action Plan underway Population surveys in Sri Lankamalai Sanctuary, and new site discovered. Ecological studies underway Protection efforts for Matsu Islands; supported rediscovery in mainland China; Action Plan underway Local government regulations and land-use planning, plus improved protection, for Sablayan in Mindoro Discovery in East Timor Sizeable populations discovered in East Timor; progress with protected area system including proposed Conis Santana National Park


Hawk-eagle, symbolic of Java’s remaining hill forest and an inspiration to the islands’ emerging conservation movement; and the ongoing struggle to conserve lowland habitat for Gurney’s Pitta in southern Thailand and Myanmar. For these species

and their habitats, BirdLife has made a significant difference to their conservation prospects. A huge disappointment has been the failure to prevent the slide towards extinction of Bali Starling in the wild, despite the completion of an Action Plan and

Table 2 ... continued. Critical and Endangered species where BirdLife is making a difference in Asia Species Red-and-blue Lory

Action and impact Establishment of Karakelang Wildlife Sanctuary; trade controls in North Sulawesi (Indonesia) and Mindanao (Philippines) Chattering Lory Establishment of national park in Halmahera Yellow-crested Cockatoo Action Plan prepared (PHPA/LIPI/BirdLife International-IP 1998); legally protected from trapping and trade in Indonesia; added to CITES Appendix I in 2004; designation of Manupeu-Tanahdaru and Laiwangi-Wanggameti National Parks in Sumba, Indonesia. Sizeable populations discovered in East Timor Sangihe Hanging-parrot Improved forest conservation with local communities and government at Sahendaruman, North Sulawesi, Indonesia Flores Hanging-parrot Local government planning and forest conservation by local communities at Mbeliling, Flores, Indonesia Black-headed Coucal Local government regulations and land-use planning, plus improved protection, for Sablayan in Mindoro Blakiston’s Fish-owl Monitoring and species protection work in Hokkaido Forest Owlet Rediscovered following Red Data Book review; greatly improved knowledge of status and distribution Mindoro Tarictic Local government regulations and land-use planning, plus improved protection, for Sablayan in Mindoro Okinawa Woodpecker Population monitoring, research and protection work in Yambaru Gurney’s Pitta Despite considerable conservation efforts, population and area of habitat at Khao Nor Chuchi declined between discovery in 1986 and 2000; in recent years encroachment of habitat has been much reduced, and population has increased following intensive activities by BCST , RSPB and OBC. Sizeable population rediscovered in Myanmar in 2004, which is estimated to be up to 8,000 pairs, and work underway to establish Lenya National Park Black Shama Support for population assessment and site conservation in Cebu Rufous-breasted Laughingthrush Surveys and ecological research Collared Laughingthrush Chu Yang Sin National Park established Grey-crowned Crocias Rediscovered in Vietnam in 1994; Chu Yang Sin National Park established Caerulean Paradise-flycatcher Supported rediscovery by Action Sampiri in 1998, followed by comprehensive status assessment; improved forest conservation with local communities and government at only known site Sahendaruman, North Sulawesi Flores Monarch Local government planning and forest conservation by local communities at Mbeliling, Flores, Indonesia Sangihe Shrike-thrush Improved forest conservation with local communities and government at Sahendaruman, North Sulawesi White-browed Nuthatch Forest conservation measures with local communities in Namataung (Mt Victoria) National Park, Myanmar with the Biodivesrity and Nature Conservation Association Sangihe White-eye Improved forest conservation with local communities and government at Sahendaruman, North Sulawesi, Indonesia Rufous-throated White-eye Rediscovered on Buru, Indonesia, in 1995; proposal for wildlife sanctuary submitted to Indonesian Government Black-winged Starling Jurong Bird Park persuaded in 2004 to manage its captive stock (the only currently known viable population in the wild or captivity) according to conservation objectives Bali Starling Action Plan published (Jepson et al. 1997); wild population has continued to decline despite support for protection in the wild, education and awareness, and captive-breeding Flores Crow Local government planning and forest conservation by local communities at Mbeliling, Flores, Indonesia


assistance with education and awareness activities and a wide-range of species protection initiatives. Thankfully there are good populations of this species in captivity, giving hope that a thriving freeflying population in Bali Barat National Park, in Indonesia, will be possible again one day. A particular focus at present is on South Asia’s Critically Endangered vultures, which are in serious decline due to poisoning by the veterinary drug diclofenac; East Asia’s cranes, through coordination and promotion of the Crane Flyway Network; and southern ocean albatrosses where BirdLife is working with governments and the fishing industry to mitigate the impact of the East Asian long-lining fishing fleets. BirdLife’s work has also led to the discovery of three species new to science: Golden-winged Laughingthrush Garrulax ngoclinhensis, Chestnuteared Laughingthrush Garrulax konkakinhensis and Black-crowned Barwing Actinodura sodangorum (Eames et al. 1999a, Eames et al. 1999b, Eames and Eames 2001), and twelve new subspecies (Eames 2002, Eames et al. 2002). Noteworthy also, and not mentioned below, was confirmation of the survival of Damar Flycatcher Ficedula henrici in 2001 on Damar, eastern Indonesia, after a period without records which took in the whole of the twentieth century (Trainor 2002). Protecting sites and conserving habitats If we are to protect the most important sites for birds, an essential first step is to know where these sites are, why they are important, and their current conservation status. A first documentation of these areas was completed in 2004 with the publication of an inventory of Important Bird Areas in Asia: key sites for conservation (BirdLife International 2004), along with a number of impressive and more detailed national inventories (e.g. for India, Nepal and parts of Indonesia). “Important Bird Areas” (IBAs), like threatened species, are identified on the basis of objective, standardised criteria, for threatened species, restricted-ranges species (which occur within an Endemic Bird Area), biomerestricted species, and species which congregate in significant numbers such as seabirds and waterbirds. The Asian review documents a total of 2,293 IBAs, covering 7.6% of our region. Of these, 939 IBAs (43%) are included within formal protected areas, 325 (14%) are partially included, and 976 are without any formal protected area designation (Figure 1 showing IBAs in Asia). BirdLife’s 2004–2008 Asia programme will focus on promoting awareness about this site network, at national and regional levels, ensuring IBAs are recognised by national governments and international agencies, monitoring IBAs across the

region, and developing the Local Conservation Group approach to safeguard IBAs through locally based conservation action. BirdLife will continue to advance major conservation initiatives at a wide range of sites across the region, and in particular to promote the designation of IBAs as protected areas. One of the goals of the IBA programme is to assist Asian governments meet their obligations to international conservation treaties such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. BirdLife has recently identified 1,111 IBAs which meet the Ramsar criteria for designation as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites) (BirdLife 2005); to date, only 120 (or 11%) of the IBAs identified as meeting the criteria have been officially designated by governments, and the findings were promoted at the Conference of Parties held in Uganda in November 2005. BirdLife is also working with institutions such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and Japan Bank for International Cooperation to ensure that IBAs are safeguarded in development planning and project implementation. Using IBA information, this has led to projects being amended and in some cases cancelled, with infrastructure such as roads and power lines being re-routed. Our long-term aim is that all IBAs will be adequately taken care of through government policies and land-use plans. BirdLife is active in supporting the Asia-Pacific Migratory Waterbird Conservation Strategy, which includes the establishment of site networks (“flyway” networks) for geese and ducks, shorebirds, and cranes. The Wild Bird Society of Japan (BirdLife Partner in Japan) coordinates the Crane Flyway Network and over 20 sites are now included in this network. Since 1994, BirdLife has improved the conservation status and prospects for a large number of IBAs across the region. In Vietnam and Indonesia, for example, BirdLife has worked closely with the relevant government agencies to help expand their national protected area systems, where our work has tended to follow a pattern of site surveys, consultation with local stakeholders, and presentation and promotion of protected area proposals to local and national governments. In these two countries alone, BirdLife has helped to expand the area of forest under conservation management by over 650,000 ha (or 6,500 km²) (Table 3 presents the highlights). A current focus is to assist the newly established government in East Timor with the setting-up of a first protected area system there, the designation of new protected areas in Tanintharyi Division, Myanmar, and the establishment of a first-ever private forest reserve in the lowlands of Sumatra, Indonesia.


Figure 1. The location of Important Bird Areas in the Asia region.


Table 3. New protected areas in Indonesia and Vietnam where BirdLife has made a significant contribution towards designation since 1994 Site name/country

Area (ha) Importance

Manupeu-Tanahdaru National Park, Sumba, Indonesia

87,984

Laiwangi-Wanggameti National Park, 47,014 Sumba, Indonesia Karakelang WildLife Sanctuary, Talaud 34,905 Islands, North Sulawesi, Indonesia Aketajawi-Lolobata National Park, Halmahera, North Maluku, Indonesia

Chu Yang Sin National Park, Dak Lak Province, Vietnam Ke Go Nature Reserve, Ha Tinh Province, Vietnam Kon Ka Kinh National Park, Gia Lai Province, Vietnam Kon Cha Rang Nature Reserve, Gia Lai Province, Vietnam Phong Dien Nature Reserve, Thua Thien Hue Province, Vietnam Ngoc Linh Nature Reserve, Kon Tum Province, Vietnam Dakrong Nature Reserve, Quang Tri Province, Vietnam Xuan Lien Nature Reserve, Vietnam Lo Go-Xa Mat National Park, Vietnam

Yok Don National Park, Vietnam

Lowland and hill forest, with important populations of the threatened Red-naped Fruit-dove Ptilinopus dohertyi, Sumba Hornbill Aceros everetti, and Yellow-crested Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea Lowland to montane forest, with similar species to Manupeu-Tanahdaru

Lowland and hill forest, with populations of the threatened Talaud Rail Gymnocrex talaudensis, Grey Imperial Pigeon Ducula pickeringii, and Redand-blue Lory Eos histrio 167,300 Lowland and hill forest, supporting populations of the threatened Chattering Lory Lorius garrulus, White Cockatoo Cacactua alba, Sombre Kingfisher Todiramphus funebris, Purple Dollarbird Eurystomus azureus, and Dusky Friarbird Philemon fuscicapillus 59,278 Hill and montane forest, supporting populations of the threatened Germain’s Peacock-pheasant Polyplectron germaini, Collared Laughingthrush Garrulax yersini and Grey-crowned Crocias Crocias langbianis 24,801 Lowland forest, supporting populations of the threatened Vietnamese Pheasant Lophura hatinhensis and Crested Argus Rheinardia ocellata 41,710 Hill and montane forest, supporting populations of the threatened Chestnut-eared Laughingthrush Garrulax konkakinhensis 15,900 Hill and montane forest, supporting populations of the threatened Crested Argus Rheinardia ocellata and Masked Finfoot Heliopais personata 41,548 Lowland and hill forest, supporting populations of the threatened Edwards’s Pheasant Lophura edwardsi and Crested Argus Rheinardia ocellata 41,424 Hill and montane forest, supporting populations of the threatened Crested Argus Rheinardia ocellata, Golden-winged Laughingthrush Garrulax ngoclinhensis and Black-crowned Barwing Actinodura sodangorum 40,526 Lowland and hill forest, supporting populations of the threatened Edwards’s Pheasant Lophura edwardsi and Crested Argus Rheinardia ocellata 23,610 Lowland and hill forest supporting a population of Short-tailed Scimitar Babbler Jabouilleia danjoui 18,765 Upgraded to national park status following recommendations made by BirdLife. Supports restricted-range species characteristic of the Southern Vietnamese Lowlands EBA. [115,545] The area was expanded following recommendations made by BirdLife and others. Supports Giant Ibis, Masked Finfoot and Green Peafowl Pavo muticus

The IBA network is a minimum set of sites which need to be conserved; but to achieve conservation of these would represent a massive step forward in preventing species extinction as well as conserving other species with restricted ranges or that concentrate in large numbers at critical stages in their lifecycle. BirdLife recognises, however, that conserving important sites will never be enough if environmental degradation and biodiversity loss are to be halted and reversed. Many threatened species are widely dispersed throughout all of, or at key stages in, their life cycle. Furthermore, there is an increasing sense that a broader suite of commoner species are declining (but not yet globally

threatened), especially those of agricultural and forest habitats. Data from Japan for example are revealing an alarming decline in forest-dwelling summer migrants which winter in the tropical forests of South-East Asia. Populations of these and other species can only be maintained if their habitats in the wider environment are conserved. Here the challenges are enormous and the forces at play are inextricably linked to the ever-expanding regional and global economy. Higher levels of consumption and globalisation of markets are having a direct impact on the extent and quality of habitats in the Asia region. Demand for commodities such as palm oil, coffee, sugar, etc., are continuing to fuel the clearance and degradation of forests. It is a shocking


fact that the paper industry in South-East Asia continues to remain far too reliant on the pulping of tropical forest. Diverse agricultural landscapes in countries such as India, with their abundant bird life, will lose their biodiversity values as higher standards of living drive agricultural intensification. The looming threat of global warming is likely to add another perhaps overwhelming dimension to the nature and scale of the crisis facing birds and their habitats in the region. Over the past decade BirdLife has sought to influence agricultural, wetland and forest policies, particularly the wise use of wetlands and efforts towards sustainable management of tropical forests. The Malaysian Nature Society, for example, has worked on indicators for sustainable forest management, and BirdLife Indonesia has recently assisted the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry with the passage of a decree which makes it legally possible for forest concessions to be taken on for conservation rather than purely exploitation purposes. BirdLife (particularly through the work of the RSPB) is increasingly engaged in efforts to tackle the environmental impact of global trade and the threat of global warming. Over the next decade, BirdLife will need to give greater attention to the bigger issues affecting birds in the wider environment. BirdLife believes passionately that conservation effort for birds, biodiversity and the environment are inextricably linked to advancing human welfare and economic security. The BirdLife Partnership works together for birds and people, and as agents of change people are the most important target for BirdLife’s work. Empowering people Central to the BirdLife strategy is the aim to help build the individual and institutional capacity of organisations in the BirdLife Partnership, and more widely to promote an awareness and appreciation of birds and the environment. Without growth in organisations, conservation efforts and achievements will not be sustained, and without a significant growth in public support we cannot hope to address the current scale of threats to birds and their habitats. That first sparkle of interest in birds and birdwatching can often be the starting point for a life-long concern for the environment. Field guides can play an important part in igniting an interest in birds, yet until recently they were not affordable, nor available in relevant languages, in most Asian countries. The Wild Bird Society of Japan supported the publication of a Chinese-language field guide to the birds of Taiwan, and this publication undoubtedly helped promote birdwatching and

conservation there. WBSJ followed this with a Korean- and English-language field guide to the birds of Korea. Since 1994, working with support from the World Bank, BirdLife has brought into existence a wide range of other local-language field guides covering Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia (with separate technical guides to the Greater Sundas, Wallacea and Papua, and popular guides to the birds of Java, Sumatra and Kalimantan, and Sulawesi). Hindi, Gujarati and Urdu versions of the Birds of northern India have recently appeared, whilst Marathi, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu editions of the Birds of southern India are in preparation. Also in the pipeline are field guides to the birds of Pakistan and East Timor. In addition to field guides, BirdLife has produced local-language books on field census techniques for Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia, thereby helping to build technical skills in bird surveys, monitoring and research. Through training courses, workshops and study tours, BirdLife has directly helped with the development of a number of organisations in the BirdLife Partnership, most notably Bird Conservation Society of Thailand, Bombay Natural History Society, and Bird Conservation Nepal. BirdLife’s presence in Indonesia has given rise to an independent national NGO, BirdLife Indonesia, and contributed significantly to a thriving local NGO movement. This is something that was barely imaginable during the Soeharto era. BirdLife is now helping with the development of the Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association, which has recently registered as a national NGO in Myanmar. In India, the Bombay Natural History Society has helped to build the Indian Bird Conservation Network, which is bringing local bird clubs and other like-minded organisations together around an agenda for species and IBA research and conservation. BirdLife and the Hong Kong Birdwatching Society have recently embarked on a programme to support the emergence of local birdwatching and conservation societies in China. As a result of BirdLife’s work, there has been meaningful growth in the bird conservation movement in Asia over the past decade. Conservation education and public awareness are central to the work of all organisations in the BirdLife Partnership. The Bombay Natural History Society, for example, manages education centres in Mumbai and Delhi, attracting thousands of schoolchildren a year. Bird Conservation Society of Thailand and Wild Bird Federation Taiwan hold annual birdwatching fairs, and there are annual raptor watches for the public in Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia. On a bigger scale, BirdLife has held almost annual World Bird Counts or World Bird Festivals in Asia to promote birdwatching and


conservation to a wider audience, Together the BirdLife Partnership is reaching out to hundreds of thousands of people a year, giving hope that the conservation movement in the region will swell over time.

Acknowledgements Many thanks to colleagues Nigel Collar, Mike Crosby, Jonathan Eames, Lim Kim Keang and Asad Rahmani for very valuable comments on an earlier draft of this article.

Gaps in the programme Whilst there have been some great achievements by BirdLife in Asia over the past decade, one cannot help but feel disappointment at what we have not been able to tackle, and the continuing downward trend in both extent and quality of bird habitats throughout the region. We are still far from turning the corner in the degradation of Asia’s environment and biodiversity. For example, there are a number of “lost” species outlined by Butchart et al. (2005) where there is little or nothing to report, and the continuing loss of forest on Borneo and Mindanao, the reclamation of intertidal flats along the South China Sea coast, and the serious plight of many traded songbirds and parrots throughout Indonesia have not received the attention they deserve.

References

BirdLife and OBC Since its formation, OBC has made a fantastic contribution to the conservation of birds and their habitats in the Asia region. OBC has provided small grants of great strategic value which have helped to improve knowledge, or support direct action, for threatened species and their habitats. OBC’s commitment to Gurney’s Pitta conservation in Thailand, when there seemed little more that could be done (except look for viable populations in Myanmar) stands out in my mind. It is hoped that BirdLife’s priority-setting work, such as the Red Data Book and IBA inventory, will continue to provide a foundation and the justification for OBC investments in people and conservation in the region. Many OBC members contributed to the Red Data Book and Important Bird Areas work, and it is vital that this support continues. Many OBC members are members of and active in organisations in the BirdLife Partnership. Those who are not should certainly consider signing up. Those members based in the region might consider engaging with or supporting IBA Local Conservation Groups as a way of contributing directly towards conserving the region’s important sites. The wealthier members of OBC should consider supporting BirdLife globally by becoming members of the Rare Bird Club. BirdLife Secretariat staff have served, and continue to serve, on OBC Council, which helps to maintain a shared sense of priorities, and close personal and institutional linkages. Long may the two organisations continue to work in tandem for Asia’s birds and habitats!

BirdLife International (2001) Threatened Birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. Cambridge, U.K.: BirdLife International. BirdLife International (2003) Saving Asia’s threatened birds: a guide for government and civil society. Cambridge, U.K.: BirdLife International. BirdLife International (2004) Important Birds Areas in Asia: Key sites for conservation. Cambridge, U.K.: BirdLife International. (BirdLife Conservation Series No. 13). BirdLife International (2005) Important Bird Areas and potential Ramsar Sites in Asia. Cambridge, U.K.: BirdLife International. Butchart, S. H. M., Collar, N. J., Crosby, M. J. & Tobias, J. A. (2005) “Lost” and poorly known birds: top targets for birders in Asia. BirdingASIA 3: 41–49. Collar, N. J. (2001) Asian birds on the brink. Oriental Bird Club Bull. 34: 60–65. Eames, J. C., Le Trong Trai & Nguyen Cu (1999a) A new species of Laughingthrush (Passeriformes: Garrulacinae) from the Western Highlands of Vietnam. Bull. Brit. Orn. Club 119: 4–15. Eames, J. C., Le Trong Trai, Nguyen Cu & Eve, R. (1999b) New species of barwing Actinodura (Passeriformes: Sylviinae: Timaliini) from the western highlands of Vietnam. Ibis 141: 1–10. Eames, J. C. and Eames, C. (2001) A new species of laughingthrush (Passeriformes: Garrulacinae) from the Central Highlands of Vietnam. Bull. Brit. Orn. Club 121: 10–23. Eames, J. C. (2002) Eleven new subspecies of babbler (Timaliinae) from Kon Tum Province, Vietnam. Bull. Brit. Orn. Club 122: 109–141. Eames, J. C., Steinheimer, F. D. & Ros Bansok (2002) A collection of birds from the Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia, including a new species of Arborophila cambodiana. Forktail 18: 67–86. Jepson, P., van Balen, S., Soehartono, T. R. and Mardiastuti, A. (1997) Species Recovery Plan: Bali Starling. Bogor: PHPA/BirdLife International-Indonesia Programme. PHPA/LIPI/BirdLife International-IP (1998) Yellow-crested Cockatoo recovery plan. Bogor: PHPA/LIPI/BirdLife International–Indonesia Programme. Severinghaus, L. L., Brouwer, K., Chan, S., Chong, J. R., Coulter, M. C., Poorter, E. P. R. and Wang, Y. (1995) Action plan for the Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor. Taipei: Wild Bird Society of Taiwan (Bird Conservation Research Series no.10). Sözer, R., Nijman, V., Setiawan, I., van Balen, S., Prawiradilaga, D. M. and Subijanto, J. (1998) Javan Hawk-eagle Recovery Plan. Bogor: KMNLH/ PHPA/LIPI/BirdLife International–Indonesia Programme. Trainor, C. (2002) An expedition to Damar Island, south-west Maluku, Indonesia. Oriental Bird Club Bull. 36: 18–23.

Richard Grimmett, BirdLife International Asia Division, Toyo-Shinjuku Building 2nd Floor, 1-12-15 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0022, Japan. Email: grimmett@birdlife-asia.org


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Regional news China Urged to End Illegal Timber Imports London-based environmental watchdog Global Witness says China must act on a pledge to end the illegal import of Burmese timber. In a press release issued recently, the group accused the regional superpower of felling trees in other countries, while protecting its own forests. It also said, however, that China appears to have finally decided to crack down on the flourishing cross-border timber trade. Mike Davis of Global Witness said in the press release that the Chinese Government’s move “represents a welcome, if overdue, first step” but that they now need to act on that pledge. A recent article in China’s People’s Daily Online quoted State Forestry Administration spokesperson Cao Qingyao as saying that China enforces rigid control over imports and will firmly crack down on illegal deforestation and illegal imports. It was also announced that China has committed itself to “only allow in timber from Burma which has been lawfully licensed.” The Global Witness release said that it had found evidence of ongoing illegal logging during an investigation in February: “At least 150 loaded log trucks are crossing the border from Burma into China every night.” Illegal cross-border timber trade between Burma and China now stands at more than 1.5 million cubic meters per year, according to the report, with an approximate value of US $350 million. “The Burmese and Chinese Governments must move decisively to close the gap between the increasingly encouraging rhetoric and the reality on the ground,” said Davis, adding that “they must convert their promise into action.” In late January, Global Witness also revealed that Burma’s military junta had started cracking down on illegal logging, but seemed motivated more by short-term political and security objectives than by concern for sustainable management of forest resources. By Khum Sam Source: The Irrawaddy News Magazine Online Edition, March 09, 2006

New drug offers vulture lifeline A new report has sent a glimmer of hope for the three species of Asian vulture threatened with extinction. Slender-billed Gyps tenuirostris, Indian G. indicus and Whiterumped Vultures G. bengalensis in South Asia have suffered one of the most rapid and widespread population declines of any bird species; more than 97% loss over the last 10–15 years. World Birdwatch first warned of a suspected crash in numbers in 1998 (20(4): 6), and has kept readers up-todate with the latest developments (see e.g. World Birdwatch 26(1): 12–13). At first the population collapse was believed to be caused by a virus. But in late 2003, researchers from Washington State University working with The Peregrine Fund announced they had discovered vulture deaths were caused by the use of a veterinary drug called diclofenac. Used Vulture die-offs have had deep ecological consequences. It may still throughout the Indian subcontinent, this nonbe too late to save them. Photo: Tim Loseby steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) kills vultures that feed on the dead bodies of recently treated livestock. To combat diclofenac’s devastating effects on vulture populations, the Indian Government announced in March 2005 its intention to phase it out.

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19 BirdLife International in Indochina However, progress has been hampered by the lack of an alternative drug known to be safe for vultures yet effective for treating livestock. In a report published in January 2006 in PLoS Biology, a team of scientists led by Gerry Swan of the University of Pretoria found that meloxicam is an alternative to diclofenac that is harmless to vultures but is equally effective in treating livestock. It has recently become available for veterinary use in India and could therefore be used to replace diclofenac. “This research is an excellent example of international collaboration in response to an urgent conservation problem,” said Dr Debbie Pain, Head of International Research at the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) and a co-author of the paper. Publication of the results was timely because the India government had just convened an international meeting to decide how to save the endangered vultures. Removal of diclofenac from their food supply is a vital step, so the identification of an alternative drug may have come just in time. “It is essential that the Government of India acts quickly to make good use of this new information. Diclofenac must be replaced by meloxicam as soon as possible and there are many things that government can do to speed this up,” said Dr Asad Rahmani, Director of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS, BirdLife in India). The vulture declines have had profound ecological and social consequences. Vultures play a vital role in environmental health by disposing of carcasses and reducing the risk of disease. Fellow-author Dr Rhys Green, Principal Research Biologist at the RSPB and a scientist at Cambridge University, said: “Dr Lindsay Oaks discovered that diclofenac is the cause of the vulture declines just two years ago, so having found a practical solution so quickly is encouraging. Even so, vulture populations are declining so fast that it could still be too late to save them unless action is taken immediately.” The two key steps necessary to save vultures from extinction are removal of diclofenac from their food chain, and the establishment of conservation centres for captive breeding as a stop-gap measure until that is achieved. Source: World Birdwatch March 2006

BirdLife promotes opportunities to support  biodiversity conservation in Myanmar  On 17 January 2006, the document Myanmar: Investment Opportunities in Biodiversity Conservation was launched in Yangon, Myanmar. The launch was attended by over 30 representatives of government departments, donor agencies, academic institutions and NGOs, and was followed, the next day, by a smaller meeting in Bangkok, for interested stakeholders who were unable to attend the launch in Yangon. The two meetings were organised by UNDP Myanmar, who, together with the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), supported BirdLife to prepare the document, through a consultative process that represented the first attempt to reach multi-stakeholder consensus on priorities for biodiversity conservation in Myanmar. Speaking at the launch, Charles Petrie, the UNDP Resident Representative, emphasised the contribution that biodiversity makes to Myanmar's natural wealth, and recognised that several international donors, such as the EU member countries, have taken the position that support for environmental protection should be exempt from economic sanctions on the country. On behalf of BirdLife, Jack Tordoff, Programme Officer of the BirdLife Asia Division outlined the biological importance of Myanmar, which supports some of the most intact natural habitats and species communities remaining in the Greater Mekong Sub-region, as well as many endemic and globally threatened species. He went on to point out that, "contrary to many people's expectations, there is a facilitating environment for biodiversity conservation in the country, which is enabling increasing engagement by international and national NGOs and academic institutions". "However" he added, "the political climate has discouraged engagement by donors, and a chronic shortage of funding opportunities remains a major obstacle to conservation efforts in the country". BirdLife hopes that the launch of this document will encourage more donors to invest in biodiversity conservation in Myanmar, at a stage when it is still possible to avoid the patterns of degradation and loss of natural ecosystems that have been witnessed elsewhere in the region. Copies of the document can be collected from UNDP Myanmar (6 Natmauk Road, Yangon) and BANCA - the BirdLife Affiliate in Myanmar (A/6-2 Anawrahtar Housing, Hledan, Ward no 2, Kamayut Township, Yangon), or by contacting BirdLife International in Indochina (birdlife@birdlife.netnam.vn). Text by Dang Nguyen Hong Hanh, BirdLife Vietnam Programme

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Record funds for Gurney Pitta’s project During three days in August 2005, more than 18,000 birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts visited the British Birdfair, at Rutland Water, UK, and helped raise a record £200,000 (US$357,000) for BirdLife’s project in Myanmar and Thailand to save Gurney’s Pitta Pitta gurneyi. Speaking at the ceremony where BirdLife’s Director Dr Michael Rands was presented with a cheque for the record amount, Martin Davies, Birdfair co-organiser, commented “From the wetlands of Madagascar to the dry forests of Peru, conservation projects have been directly helped by funds raised at the BirdFair. “In 2006, Birdfair attention focuses on the islands of the Pacific Ocean, home to some of the world’s most threatened parrots. Such charismatic birds really help to highlight some of the challenges the BirdLife partnership faces around the world.” Birdfair organisers Tim Appleton and Martin Davies present a record cheque to BirdLife’s Michael Rands. Photo: Richard Thomas/BirdLife

The Saving the Pacific’s parrots project will focus on five countries (Samoa, Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Fiji and New Caledonia) and will deliver practical action for parrot conservation and help build the capacity of BirdLife’s partnership across the region. Source: World Birdwatch March 2006

‘The tigers will come back if we protect them’ Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, an American wildlife biologist who has set many milestones in his two decades working for the preservation of tigers and other wild cats around the world, achieved yet another hard-won goal on his most recent visit to Myanmar last month. During an expedition to Kachin State that lasted from January 15 to 24, the 51-year-old conservationist helped the Myanmar government put the finishing touches on the establishment of the Northern Forest Complex, a 13,500-square-mile reserve that links four existing protected areas he helped create. Those areas are Hkakabo Razi National Park, Hponkan Razi National Park, Bumphabum Wildlife Sanctuary and Hukawng Valley Tiger Reserve, all established in northern Kachin State to protect a wide range of wildlife but especially to preserve tigers from extinction. "Our best estimate is that there are about 150 tigers in the Hukawng Valley," said Dr Rabinowitz, who is the director for science and exploration for the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society. "There are also tigers in Tanintharyi Division, and some in Htamathi [Sagaing Division] and other places around Myanmar, so we think there are maybe no more than 200 or 250 in the entire country." He said Hukawng Valley and Tanintharyi Division are the only two areas in Myanmar with a good number of tigers because they are still wild and not easy to access. "Malaria is a big problem in Hukawng Valley so not many people live there," Mr Rabinowitz said. He said that last month's trip was one of the best he has had since he first came to Myanmar in 1993 to conduct wildlife surveys. "I could already see people and things changing in the reserve. I saw less hunting. I saw no guns - which is good," he said. Dr. Alan Rabinowitz inspects the goods at an animal market in Kachin State.

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21 BirdLife International in Indochina However, getting to that point was far from easy for Dr Rabinowitz and others who worked on establishing the protected areas, as the project has involved long negotiations with local villagers. "One of the rules is that we cannot make the people who live there move out," he said. "If we're going to protect an area we must help the people and the wildlife." Hukawng Tiger Reserve includes five townships, one of which (Tanaing) is entirely within the boundaries of the protected area. "It's amazing!" he said. "A tiger reserve where the normal ways of life for the whole township are maintained. We're taking a balanced approach . . . by asking locals how much land they use and how much they need." "Conservation cannot work unless local people feel good about what is happening around them," he explained. Making the reserves viable, however, has required local residents to change their behaviour in some areas, such as hunting. Dr Rabinowitz explained that tigers are not endangered because people hunt them, but because locals have over-hunted large mammals that tigers rely on as a food source. "Tigers need to kill big things to eat, so when locals kill all the sambar deer, wild pigs and barking deer, the tigers starve," he said, adding that if they don't have food, they don't reproduce. He said part of the conservation plan included differentiating development zones from wildlife corridors where it is illegal to cut trees or hunt. "We're trying to decrease hunting so sambar deer can come back to a good number," Dr Rabinowitz said. "Once the population is high, the deer and pigs will start coming into the development zones, where they can be hunted by locals." The main problem is not those who kill wildlife in order to eat, but those who kill for commercial purposes. The situation has been made worse by the opening of gold mines in the area, as locals kill animals to sell to mineworkers. "We don't have to stop the people who are killing wildlife in order to eat. What kills wildlife is commercialisation - commercial sale of wildlife," Dr Rabinowitz said. "But now it's getting better," he said. "The gold mines are almost finished, and the government plans to close them all by 2007." In the meantime, he said villagers are being taught to raise domestic animals as a food source. "We're bringing in pigs, and many of them have chickens already," he said. "But they don't know how to properly raise the chickens. They just let them run around in the forest." "Many people are starting to raise goats, which is something new. Goat meat is very good. And cows, but they don't know how to take proper care of them, so we are going to provide training." Dr Rabinowitz pointed-out that another thing that keeps people from hunting is education, reasoning that once children are educated, they do not want to stay in the forest anymore. "They don't want to live off slash-and-burn agriculture or hunting. They want to get a job working with computers in an office, which is good for conservation," he said. Dr Rabinowitz said that the government has been very helpful throughout the process of establishing the protected areas. "The military inside the Hukawng Valley says they are protecting the wildlife corridors. No matter how much development there is, the animals will still have big forested corridors they can use to cross from one side to the other." He said the Hukawng Valley is the only protected area in Asia to have wildlife police. "We have 50 policemen, real policemen, specifically called wildlife police who only work for the Hukawng Valley Tiger Reserve. Their job is to stop the sale of wildlife meat in the markets," he said. "And if anyone is caught killing a tiger, they are put in jail." With all this work behind him, Dr Rabinowitz said there is still more to be done to make sure the system is working. "We're putting up camera traps to document whether more animals are coming back into these areas, and to see if our efforts are working well," he said. "We should see changes in the tiger population within three to five years." An added bonus is that the project should provide a huge boost to Myanmar's tourism industry. "The Hukawng Valley will be a perfect place for tourists: People can ride elephants, take boat trips on the rivers, and live with the local people," he said. In the midst of his work in Kachin State, Dr Rabinowitz has not forgotten Tanintharyi Division in the southernmost part of Myanmar. On his next visit to the country, he said, he will start working on establishing protected areas for tigers there as well. "The tigers will come back if we protect them," he said. By Nyunt Win and Aung Tun, The Myanmar Times, February 6-12, 2006

An initial GIS analysis of forest categorisation in Vietnam

Since 2004, Vietnam's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has been revising the National Forest Strategy (NFS) for the period 2006 to 2020. In order to inform the NFS revision process, the Forest Sector Support Programme Coordination Office commissioned an initial GIS analysis of the categorisation of Vietnam's forests for production, protection and conservation purposes. This analysis was conducted between May and August 2005, by a team from BirdLife International and the Forest Inventory and Planning Institute. The analysis was carried out on nationwide GIS datasets, with the aim of producing an indicative, macro-level prioritisation of forests for conservation, protection and production under two hypothetical scenarios: (i) forest strategy maintaining the status quo; and (ii) a strategy focusing on environmental protection and conservation objectives.

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22 BirdLife International in Indochina The purpose of the GIS analysis was to evaluate the relative environmental and biodiversity values of Vietnam's forest estate under each scenario, and to identify key gaps or over-representation in the coverage of each of the three categories of forest in Vietnam (i.e. production forest, protection forest and special-use forest). Based on the results of the analysis, the team examined the implications of the two scenarios for the availability of land for different production forestry purposes, as well as the potential social impacts of each scenario, in particular on the potential for alleviating or reducing poverty and creating new employment opportunities. The results of the GIS analysis revealed that the current distribution of production, protection and special-use forest already comes fairly close to optimising the environmental values of Vietnam's forests (water-flow regulation, soil erosion control, landslide prevention, carbon sequestration and storage, biodiversity conservation, etc.), while, at the same time, maintaining a supply of raw materials for wood and non-wood industries. This indicates that, if the present environmental values of Vietnam's forest estate are to be maintained, the combined area of protection forest and special-use forest should not be reduced significantly from the present total. Moreover, the results of the analysis indicated that, in order to optimise the environmental values of Vietnam's forest estate, the total area of special-use forest (i.e. protected areas) should be increased from 2.2 to 3.7 million ha, through the inclusion of forest areas supporting globally important biodiversity (which are mostly categorised as protection forest at present). The North Central Coast and Central Highlands Agro-ecological Zones were shown to be the highest priorities for expanding the national special-use forest system. The authors of the GIS analysis recommended that, in order to maintain and enhance the environmental values of Vietnam's forests, there should be no further establishment of plantations in special-use forests or on forestry land classified as "critical" or "very critical" for watershed protection, and that future investment in protection forests and special-use forests should focus strongly on protection of existing natural forest. Text by Andrew Tordoff – Programme Officer, BirdLife International in Indochina

BirdLife’s inputs in the development of the Biodiversity Law of  Vietnam  With financial support from the BirdLife/RSPB, the BirdLife International Vietnam Programme will prepare a background paper on threatened and alien species to contribute to the development of the Biodiversity Law. This first Biodiversity Law of Vietnam will be developed through a consultative approach, ensuring broad and wide participation of key organisations and a wide range of citizens. The background study on threatened and alien species in Vietnam includes the following specific tasks: (1) To conduct an overview assessment of the status of threatened species and alien species in Vietnam, their threats, pressures and responses; (2) To conduct an overall analysis in order to identify gaps and/or discrepancies in Vietnam’s legal framework and stipulations on the management and conservation of threatened species, and control of alien species; (3) To conduct a quick study on the legal provisions on the management and conservation of threatened species, and control of alien species and lessons learnt for Vietnam; (4) To provide recommendations on provisions to be included in the Biodiversity Law regarding the management and conservation of threatened species, and control of alien species; and (5) To facilitate the Department of Environment (DoE)/Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) in the consultative meetings/workshops (and provide inputs to 2nd and 3rd drafts, if requested) regarding proposed provisions on the management and conservation of threatened species, as well as the habitats that support them, and control of alien species during the Biodiversity Law drafting process. The final outputs will be submitted to DoE by July 30, 2006. As planned, the 1st draft of the Law has to be ready then. The National Assembly will begin consideration of the draft Biodiversity Law in early 2007. Text by Dang Nguyen Hong Hanh, BirdLife Vietnam Programme

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Rare galliformes stamp set launched on 1 April On 1 April 2006, a stamp set depicting Vietnam’s threatened endemic partridges and pheasants (Galliformes) was launched by the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications of Vietnam. In consultation with ornithological experts from the BirdLife International Vietnam Programme, the Ministry selected five Galliformes to be depicted on the new stamp set. They are the Orangenecked Partridge Arborophila davidi, Edwards’s Pheasant Lophura edwardsi, Vietnamese Pheasant Lophura hatinhensis, Germain’s Peacock-pheasant Polyplectron germaini and Crested Argus Rheinardia ocellata. All five species have small populations that are declining because of habitat loss and fragmentation and high levels of hunting. The first three are regarded by BirdLife International as Endangered, the others as Vulnerable. The classifications vary depending upon how severe their threat of extinction is considered to be. This is the first time BirdLife and the Ministry have cooperated to publish stamps depicting Vietnam’s spectacular bird life, and in recognition of BirdLife’s assistance, each stamp carries the BirdLife International logo. BirdLife will continue to cooperate with the Ministry to produce more stamp sets over the coming years, depicting threatened and migrant waterbirds, pittas and threatened birds of prey. “The stamps will remind people of Vietnam’s rich and spectacular bird life, which is the envy of the rest of the world,” said Ms. Pham Tuan Anh BirdLife’s Vietnam Programme Manager. “It’s our duty to conserve these magnificent species and their forest homes—they’re a valuable part of our natural heritage.” Text by Dang Nguyen Hong Hanh, BirdLife Vietnam Programme

Enhancing access to bird watching information in Vietnam   The Tourism Information Technology Centre under Vietnam’s National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) and BirdLife International Vietnam Programme have signed an MoU to implement a cooperative project on promoting the results of a Japan Fund for Global Environment (JFGE) funded project to enhance access to bird watching information in Vietnam. The Centre and BirdLife will jointly establish a bird watching web page hosted by the Centre and produce a bird watching site map in Vietnam for the first time. The web-page and map will be expectedly launched in June this year. In March 2006, BirdLife organised a field survey on bird ecotourism facilities at two selected sites namely Phong Nha Ke Bang and Bach Ma National Parks, with the participation of representatives of the Centre, tour operators and BirdLife. This activity is also part of the JFGE-funded project. The trip has actually created a better linkage among BirdLife, VNAT and tour operators in promoting nature conservation through furtherance of bird eco-tourism in Vietnam. Text by Dang Nguyen Hong Hanh, BirdLife Vietnam Programme

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Landscape at Bach Ma National Park. Photo: Richard Thomas/BirdLife


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Important Bird Areas news Mount Lang Bianʹs shrinking forest comes under pressure from locals and visitors (VN037) 

Trees in the Bi Dup-Nui Ba Nature Reserve were cut down by local people. Photo: Richard Craik

Discarded polystyrene lunch boxes, plastic bags and bottles are dumped in areas that are popular for picnics among the pines. Photos: Richard Craik

The montane evergreen and pine forest at Mount Lang Bian, the only easily accessible site for the Vietnamese endemic Collared Laughingthrush Garrulax yersini, is coming under increasing pressure from both locals and visitors. Woodcutters, charcoal burners and resin collectors are all taking their toll on the shrinking evergreen and coniferous forest that surrounds the summit. Despite being located within the Bi Dup-Nui Ba Nature Reserve the collection of forest products by the local population continues quite openly. Meanwhile the growing numbers of tourists visiting Mount Lang Bian are also having a detrimental effect on the local environment. Since the dirt road was surfaced a few years ago shiny new jeeps ferry tourists up the mountain to a lookout point near the summit. Thankfully the final few kilometres to the summit where the best forest remains and where the laughingthrushes and other local specialities are found is still a dirt trail and is used only by the more adventurous tourists and groups of students. While being spared the racing Russian jeeps the summit trail is suffering in other ways. Discarded polystyrene lunch boxes, plastic bags and bottles are dumped in areas that are popular for picnics among the pines while a trail of litter leads through the evergreen forest all the way to the summit which is crowned with yet more piles of garbage. With hundreds of tourists visiting Lang Bian every day and a fleet of jeeps charging 150,0000VND (about US$10) for a five minute journey to the summit it is a pity that some of this money is not be used to protect the forest and keep the local environment clean. I wonder how much it would cost to employ a local person perhaps from the minority village at the bottom of the mountain to walk the summit trail every day collecting the litter for proper disposal at the park entrance. Litter could be collected from bins placed at regular points along the road and trails to the summit. Cat Tien National Park now has litter bins and regular litter patrols throughout the park so it should be very easy to implement something similar at Lang Bian which covers a much smaller area. Perhaps members of the local community could also be employed as guardians of the forest to report cases of tree cutting or resin extraction. Text by Richard Craik, Ho Chi Minh City

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BirdLife/BANCA exploration of Mount Imawbun IBA  in North‐east Myanmar As part of the Darwin-funded project Building constituencies for site-based conservation in Myanmar, throughout March 2006 a Birdlife/BANCA team undertook an ornithological survey of the Mount Imawbun area in North-east Kachin State close to the border with Yunnan, China. This was the first ornithological exploration of Mount Imawbun since the legendary Verney Cutting expedition of 1938/39 (see From the Archives in this issue). The objectives of the BirdLife survey included to make representative bird skin collections from 500 and 3,000 m (two elevations not sampled from Mount Ma Jed in 2005), and to determine whether any Restricted-range species typical of the Yunnan Mountains EBA extended into the area. Although discovered too late to include in Important Bird Areas in Asia the area qualifies as an IBA because it supports significant numbers of Globally Threatened species and supports a significant component of the The snow-clad and forbidding slopes of the Imawbun Restricted–range species that define the EBA. The survey range are home to Sclater’s Monal Lophophorus sclateri recorded seven of the 22 restricted-range species that and Blood Pheasant Ithaginis cruentus. Photo: J C Eames define the EBA. These were Blyth’s Tragopan Tragopan blythii, Sclater’s Monal Lophophorus sclateri, Grey and Beautiful Sibas Heterophasia gracilis and H. pulchella, White-naped Yuhina Yuhina bakeri, Yellow-vented Warbler Phylloscopus cantator and Broad-billed Warbler Tickellia hodgsoni. The relatively few Restricted–range species recorded reflects the fact that the team concentrated on higher elevations (above 3,000 m asl) where bird diversity is lower, and only passed through more diverse forest at lower elevations which were sampled on nearby Mount Ma Jed in 2005. Although the team did not find White-speckled Laughingthrush Garrulax bieti, or Yunnan Nuthatch Sitta yunnanensis, they did find Brown-winged Parrotbill Paradoxornis brunneus which had been previously collected in north-east Kachin State.

Male Blyth’s Tragopan Tragopan blythii (left) trapped by a Lisu hunter on Mount Imawbun March 2006. Photo: J C Eames

Brown-winged Parrotbill Paradoxornis brunneus (right) a Restricted-range species known from the Eastern Himalayas and Yunnan Mountains EBAs. Photo: J C Eames

Text by J C Eames, Programme Manager BirdLife International in Indochina

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China logs Mount Imawbun IBA  Throughout the recent BirdLife/BANCA exploration of Mount Imawbun, rampant logging by Chinese contractors was very much in evidence. The Chinese have established a vast network of logging roads and daily the team heard dynamiting as the logging road network was expanded or saw heavily laden logging trucks making there way back to the international frontier. This logging is being undertaken with the active support of so-called “cease-fire” groups and knowledge of the Government of Myanmar. Text by J C Eames, Programme Manager BirdLife International in Indochina

A heavily laden Chinese logging truck begins its journey-back to the international frontier. Photo: J C Eames

 

New research project on Gurney’s Pitta underway in Myanmar  (MY49 and MY 50)    In February newly appointed Gurney’s Pitta research scientist Aung Pyeh Khant, the RSPBs Dr Paul Donald, U Htin Hla from BANCA and Jonathan C Eames from BirdLife traveled to Tanintharyi Division to initiate a new research project on Gurney’s Pitta funded by the Darwin Initiative as part of the project entitled Gurney’s Pitta research and conservation in Thailand and Myanmar. This project will look at range, distribution and habitat use by Gurney’s Pitta, initially within the Ngawun Reserve Forest and the proposed Lenya National Park. It will thus make an important contribution to our knowledge of the species. Results will feed into the species recovery plan and assist in land-use planning and conservation management for the proposed Lenya/Ngawun National Park. During their short visit the team visited Ngawun Reserve Forest and were delighted to discover that there appears to have been no logging in the area since BirdLife’s last visit in 2004. Text by J C Eames, Programme Manager BirdLife International in Indochina

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Jonathan C. Eames, Dr Paul Donald and Aung Pyeh Khant help prop-up a Toyota Hi-lux in Ngawun Reserve Forest, February 2006. Photo: U Htin Hla.


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One step closer to obtaining a decree for Boeung Prek Lapouv IBA  (KH039)  

Map of Boeung Prek Lapouv Sarus Crane Conservation Area

During a field trip to Boeung Prek Lapouv IBA between 28 February and 02 March 2006, Mr Men Phymean, Director of Wildlife Protection Office and Seng Kim Hout, Project Officer of the BirdLife Cambodia Programme conducted two separate meetings with the governors of Takeo province and Borey Chulsar district regarding the provincial agreement on relocation of Dey Leuk village out of the core area as requested by Mr Hun Sean, Deputy Director of International Cooperation Department and Assistant to the Minister of Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) in a discussion meeting held on 3 February 2006 in MAFF. As a final result of the discussion, the southern boundary of the core area has been moved northwards to exclude Dey Leuk village. Moreover, MAFF have suggested to the Forestry Administration to now prepare a draft sub decree. During the meetings, Mr Men Phymean also informed the governors of the preparation of the draft sub decree for Boeung Prek Lapouv IBA.

Text by Seng Vanna and Seng Kim Hout, BirdLife Cambodia Programme

Surveys for Bengal Florican in the Ton Le Sap floodplain KH016,  KH017, KH020, KH021 This year BirdLife is supporting University of East Anglia PhD student Tom Grey conduct a status assessment of the Globally Endangered Bengal Florican Houbaropsis bengalensis in the floodplain of the Ton Le Sap. Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and BirdLife staff have joined forces once more to participate in this survey. On 27th March Tom sent us this update from the field which is written in the context of the current land-grab and conversion of grasslands to irrigated rice cultivation: “Just a quick up-date from the first few days of the wider survey. It appears to have started well with all three teams understanding and implementing the methodology well. We are starting by surveying the three grassland blocks in Kompong Thom (Stoung/Kompong Svay; Baray and Santuk/Stung Chinit) so that when Tom Evans and Chamnan meet the Kompong Thom provincial governor next week we have a good idea of what is left and saveable in the province. The teams then head for Seam Reap and Banteay Meanchey before breaking for Khmer New Year [in mid April]. Updates on what we have found so far include quite a lot of Bengal Floricans with approximately half of surveyed squares containing birds. The area which had been most surveyed by the time I left was Stoung/Kompong Svay. Here the grassland patch is about 30 km long and 6 km wide. Everywhere we visited we found a consistent (if rather depressing pattern). The furthest 1.5 km grassland from villages has already been converted into dry season [paddy]; the next 1.52km or so contains some excellent looking grassland (with quite a few Floricans) but very obvious signs of deep water rice dams being constructed whilst the final 2km or so nearest the village contains more sub-optimal degraded grassland. Last year this site would have been well worth protecting - now it is probably beyond saving.

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28 BirdLife International in Indochina The second area I visited was in Santuk district on the boundary of Kompong Thom/Kompong Channang provinces south of Kruos Kraom and Veal Srangai. Here we saw only one (admittedly very large) dry season rice dam and Borey felt that the fact that the area was on the border of two administrative provinces may make development more difficult (too many people to bribe?). The habitat was however very different from other Florican sites being extensive long grass with quite regular trees and scrubs (rather reminiscent of Spanish cork oak woodland). However the burnt open areas contained Floricans and locals were very aware of the species presence here saying it was relatively common. Borey also saw Greater Adjutant (gone the following day when I arrived) and locals reported regularly seeing White-shouldered Ibis in one and twos. In all probability a very important area for conservation! Should be targeted for our efforts? - however due to the nature of the grassland Florican densities are likely to be much lower than at say Stoung or Stoung/Kompong Svay. Cheers, Tom”.

Recent BirdLife Activities at Boeung Prek Lapouv IBA KH039 This report presents the results of activities conducted by SSG members in Boeung Prek Lapouv IBA in Borey Chulsar and Koh Andeth Districts, Takeo Province during 01-28 February 2006 and by Seng Kim Hout during 27 February-02 March 2006. There are now seven SSG members working in Boeung Prek Lapouv IBA. These members are divided into two different teams. The education and awareness promotion team working in the villages of the two communes includes Mr San Suong, chief of Kampong Krosaing commune, Mr Tep Sambun, chief of Administration Police Office to Chey Chouk commune, and Mr Em Thon, chief of Banteay Sleuk village. The patrol team working in field to monitor illegal activities has four members, namely Mr Say Sayoeun, Head of Andoung Tuek Forestry Administration Division, Mr Seng Vanna, Officer of Fisheries Office in Takeo Province, Mr Dy Thon, Police Official of Police Inspection in Koh Andeth District, and Mr Chan Sokhum, Police Official of Police Inspection in Borey Chulsar District. In February 2006, the patrol team educated people from Prey Yuthka village, Prey Yuthka commune, Koh Andeth district. The message provided by the team was that there was no walking across areas with feeding flocks of Sarus Cranes, no grass burning and the use of electro fishing gear would not be allowed. SSG members conducted monthly patrols in the whole Boeung Prek Lapouv IBA including eight times in February 2006 to monitor illegal activities such as wildlife hunting, poisoning and trapping; illegal fishing activities; inundated forest clearing and grass burning activities and land encroachment. The results achieved were as follows: Mr Uch Chea, who cleared the inundated forest for making dry season rice in the protected inundated forest was arrested and sent to Fisheries Branch based in Borey Chulsar district. This villager was asked to make a contract to stop this activity. The patrol team listed 30 people who came from Tuol Kandal village, Prey Khla commune, Koh Andeth district to grab land in the protected inundated forest. The team made a report on this issue to the Takeo Provincial Department of Agriculture for intervention to the provincial and relevant district offices. This activity of land encroachment was entirely stopped. Besides illegal activity prevention, bird surveys were conducted in the area in February 2006. The bird species and recorded numbers are in Table 1 below.

Table 1: Bird species and numbers observed in February 2006 No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 12 13 14 15

Species Sarus Crane Bengal Florican Painted Stork Dater Glossy Ibis Black-headed Ibis Asian Openbill Little Egret Intermediate Egret Great Egret Grey Heron Javan Pond Heron Little Cormorant Lesser Whistling Duck

Obs. SSG SSG SSG SSG SSG SSG SSG SSG SSG SSG SSG SSG SSG SSG

01 65

Number of birds observed in February 2006 03 05 11 19 21 22 84 103 8 16 14 1♂ 71 48 36 45 16 8 16 46 210 51 130 10 7 36 39 5

23 14 36 9

24 18

Text by Seng Vanna and Seng Kim Hout, BirdLife Cambodia Programme

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29 BirdLife International in Indochina

Rarest of the rare

CR – Pink-headed Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea 2005 IUCN Red List Category (as evaluated by BirdLife International - the official Red List Authority for birds for IUCN): Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct) Justification This species has not been seen in the wild since 1949; it was always considered rare, and may have been driven extinct by a combination of hunting and habitat loss. However, it cannot yet be presumed to be Extinct until remote wetlands in northern Myanmar have been surveyed. Any remaining population is likely to be tiny, and for these reasons it is treated as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct). Family/Sub-family ANATIDAE Species name author (Latham, 1790) Taxonomic source(s) Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993) Identification 60 cm. Graceful, long-necked duck. Males have deep pink head and neck, blackish-brown centre of throat, foreneck and most of remaining plumage. Rosy-pinkish bill. In flight, pale brownish-buff secondaries, narrow, whitish leading edge to wing-coverts and pale pink underwing. Females have duller and browner body, pale greyishpink head and upper neck with brownish wash on crown and hindneck and duller bill. Juvenile has duller brown body than female, with fine, whitish feather fringes. Voice Males utter weak whistle, females a low quack. Hints Search remote, overgrown wetlands in north-east India and northern Myanmar. Population estimate

Population trend

Range estimate (breeding/resident)

Country endemic?

<50

unknown

-

No

Range & population Rhodonessa caryophyllacea was locally distributed in the wetlands of India, Bangladesh and Myanmar, and occurred rarely in Nepal, with most records from north-east India and adjacent Bangladesh. It was always considered uncommon or rare and was last seen in the wild in 1949, surviving until around the same time in captivity. Recent "sightings" and positive leads from a series of questionnaires about its possible continued existence in north-east India were the result of confusion with Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina. Hopes remain that it may be rediscovered in remote wetlands in northern Myanmar. Its extinction cannot be confirmed until this part of its former range has been surveyed. Ecology It is shy and secretive, inhabiting secluded and overgrown still-water pools, marshes and swamps in lowland forest and tall grasslands, particularly areas subject to seasonal inundation and, in winter, also lagoons adjoining large rivers. Outside the breeding season it was usually encountered in small groups and occasionally flocks of 30-40. Some, and possibly all, populations undertook local seasonal movements, resulting in scattered historical records as far afield as Punjab, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh. Threats Its decline resulted from a combination of hunting and habitat loss. As a sedentary species, it suffered yearround persecution during a period (the late 19th and early 20th centuries) when hunting levels in India were high. Clearance of forest and drainage of wetlands for agricultural land has destroyed much of its habitat. It is likely that egg collection and disturbance also contributed to its decline. Conservation measures proposed Locate and systematically survey any remaining remote and large tracts of suitable habitat within its former range, particularly north Bihar, Assam and Myanmar, and interview local hunters. Should it be rediscovered, stringent protection measures should be taken to ensure the survival of any populations.

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Project updates Conservationists help local people to protect nature  in Central Vietnam  On February 17th 2006, a national workshop was organised in Dong Hoi city, Quang Binh province by the Quang Binh and Quang Tri Provincial Forest Protection Departments (FPDs) in collaboration with BirdLife International Vietnam Programme. The workshop was held to mark the end of the MacArthur-funded project entitled “Conservation of Important Bird Areas in Indochina: Strengthening Site Support Groups to conserve critical biodiversity” in February 2006. It aimed to present the outcomes of this three-year project and share lessons learnt among the project sites and other community-based conservation projects in Vietnam. Site Support Groups (SSGs) are groups of villagers and other local stakeholders who share a common commitment to the conservation of an Important Bird Area (IBA). Under the project, nine SSGs have been established so far at four IBAs in Quang Binh and Quang Tri provinces, and have made considerable contributions to biodiversity conservation at these sites. SSG is a new approach to conservation in Vietnam. It has shown initial positive results, such as non-hunting and non-logging agreements signed by local households, reduced illegal activities at the IBAs and increased alternative income generation activities for local communities. To continue the good work of the project, BirdLife and the FPDs in the two provinces are currently preparing a number of new projects. Local households at a ceremony to sign non-hunting and non-logging agreements in November 2005 at Bac Huong Hoa IBA, Quang Tri province. Photo: BirdLife Vietnam

Mr Le Trong Trai, coordinator of the project said, “BirdLife is making efforts to extend the SSG model through various new projects. For example, in Quang Tri province, besides implementing the MacArthur-funded project, we are implementing a project to improve local livelihoods, supported by the Dutch Government. We have also recently received a grant from the British Embassy in Hanoi for a project to put in place a foundation for sustainable use of the natural resources of Dakrong IBA by local communities. We also hope to secure funding to continue and expand activities in Quang Binh province, so that the benefits of the SSG approach can be felt more widely” Text by Dang Nguyen Hong Hanh, BirdLife Vietnam Programme

First comprehensive biological survey of Chu Yang Sin National Park In March 2006, a field expedition to survey and assess the biodiversity status parts of the Chu Yang Sin National Park (CYS NP) in Central Highlands of Vietnam was carried out by a joint team of BirdLife staff, NP staff, and other scientists. This activity was a part of the Global Environment Fund/World Bank (GEF/WB) funded Integrating Watershed and Biodiversity Management in Chu Yang Sin National Park, Dak Lak Province, Vietnam project. Information gained during the survey will be a foundation for the establishment of a biodiversity monitoring programme and management plan for CYS NP.

Montane pine forest in the Chu Yang Sin National Park Photo: Nguyen Truong Son

Primary vegetation spreading out from 800m elevation to the Chu Yang Sin peak (2,442m) remains undamaged. In these elevations, rare and endemic conifer species of global conservation significance were recorded, including Pinus dalatensis (Vulnerable), Pinus krempfii


31 BirdLife International in Indochina (Vulnerable), and Fokienia hodginsii (Near Threatened). The zoological survey results also indicated the conservation importance of Chu Yang Sin National Park. In only a small area of c. 2,500ha surveyed, eight groups of Yellow-cheeked Gibbon Nomascus gabriellae (Near Threatened), one group of Black-shanked Douc Langur Pygathrix nemaeus nigripes (Endangered species) were recorded. In addition, other primate species were recorded during the survey, such as Stump-tailed Macaque Macaca arctoides (Vulnerable) and Long-tailed Macaque Macaca fascicularis (Near Threatened). A group of about three or four Gaur Bos gaurus (Vulnerable) were also recorded. During the expedition, for the first time, the bat and small mammal faunas were surveyed. As a result, a mole (Talpidae) was found that might be a new species to science. Six of ten species that originally qualified Chu Yang Sin as an IBA were recorded during the survey: Collared Laughingthrush Garrulax yersini (Endangered); Black-hooded Laughingthrush Garrulax milleti (Near Threatened); Grey-crowned Crocias Crocias langbianis (Endangered); Short-tailed Scimitar Babbler Jabouilleia danjoui (Near A Blyth's Kingfisher Alcedo hercules recorded Threatened); Germain’s Peacock Pheasant Polyplectron germaini during the survey. Photo: Nguyen Truong Son (Vulnerable); and Crested Argus Rheinardia ocellata (Near Threatened). Despite of the fact that this site still qualifies as an Important Bird Area (IBA) in the Da Lat Plateau Endemic Bird Area (EBA), the integrity of CYS NP and its biodiversity values are under severe human pressure, most seriously from hunting/trapping activities by H’Mong people who spontaneously migrated to this area from mountainous provinces in northern Vietnam.

NP staff learned new techniques during the survey. Photo: Dang Ngoc Can

Joint survey team of BirdLife staff, NP staff, and other scientists. Photo: Nguyen Truong Son

Through participating in this survey, the staff of CYS NP were trained in biodiversity survey and assessment skills. This was the first time they had an opportunity to learn how to collect baseline biodiversity data. It was also a chance for them to learn identification of many rare and endemic fauna and flora species in the NP. BirdLife’s experts were very pleased at the enthusiasm and desire to learn of the NP staff who joined the field survey. In the future, these staff themselves will carry out a biodiversity monitoring programme for the NP. “At present, in April and May 2006, this team is undertaking an additional biodiversity survey in CYS NP, focusing on fish and butterfly faunas. As both taxonomical groups are studied in the first time in Chu Yang Sin National Park, BirdLife strongly hope that many new discoveries for science will be made during the survey”, said Mr Le Trong Trai, BirdLife’s Conservation Planner for this project. Text by Le Trong Trai, BirdLife Vietnam Programme

Continued support for biodiversity conservation in Central Vietnam To build on the initial success of the MacArthur-funded project mentioned above, and expand and enhance community involvement in biodiversity conservation in Quang Tri province, BirdLife have been now implementing two projects: (1) Strengthening Site Support Groups to Conserve Critical Biodiversity and Provision of Livelihoods at Dakrong Nature Reserve, Vietnam funded by the Global Opportunity Fund/the British Embassy in Hanoi from January 2006 to March

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32 BirdLife International in Indochina 2008 and (2) Community stewardship of natural resources for biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation at Truong Son Important Bird Area, Vietnam funded by DGIS-TMF/BirdLife from September 2005 to November 2007. The projects help put in place a foundation for the sustainable forest management through the sustainable use of natural resources by local communities and contribute to poverty alleviation and biodiversity conservation at some selected sites. The projects will also contribute to implementation of the national agenda for sustainable and participatory environmental governance in Vietnam. Promoting community participation in participatory approach in natural resource protection and management, which the projects try to do through functioning SSGs, is one the priority actions set out in the Management Strategy for Vietnam’s Protected Area System 2003 – 2010. On March 20, 2006 the BirdLife Vietnam Programme signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Quang Tri Provincial Forest Protection Department (FPD) for the cooperation in implementing biodiversity conservation support projects in the area. This MoU reaffirmed the close and long-standing relationship between BirdLife and the FPD to carry out present and future activities of biodiversity conservation in Quang Tri province. Text by Ngo Van Tuan, BirdLife Vietnam Programme

Continued SSG activity in the buffer zone of   Natmataung National Park  In the first three months of 2006, the SSGs in Hlalaungpan and Khun-ein villages have bought and distributed improved potato varieties and maize to all the households for their cultivation. To date 10,000 coffee seedlings and 1,000 avocado seedlings are being regularly watered and looked after in each village by a motivated villager with nursery instructions explained by BANCA staff. Meetings were held in January 2006 among BANCA staff, Natmataung National Park staff, the SSGs and the patrolling team in each village to boost patrolling against poaching, illegal extraction of forest products, including wild orchids, forest fires and encroachment for shifting cultivation. Water storage tanks and nurseries installed by BANCA staff have been handed over to SSG members in the two villages.

Coffee seedlings ready for out-planting. Photo: Aung Kyaw Nyunt

The SSGs in Hlalaungpan and Khun-ein villages are distributing improved potato varieties and maize to all the households. Photo: Aung Kyaw Nyunt

In Hilaung, Oakpo, Makyauk-ar and Yalaungpan villages, patrolling equipment were supplied to patrolling teams with the financial assistance of British Embassy (Yangon). The equipment included hats, headlights, raincoats, long pants, inner long pants, inner long sleeved shirts, belts, water containers, knives, haversacks, socks, jungle boots, ball pens, note books, batteries and a camera for each village for recording. The patrolling teams did appreciate the equipment and promised to do intensive patrolling against poaching and illegal extraction of forest products. In addition, the

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33 BirdLife International in Indochina Embassy also assisted these villages with school materials, including writing and sitting benches for students, tables for teachers, chairs for teachers, wooden cabinets, black boards, exercise books, text books, pencils, erasers, rulers. BANCA believes that environmental conservation cannot be undertaken by one individual, one agency, one governmental department, one NGO or even one government or one country. Partnership for effective conservation programmes is important. Besides, the role of the local people should not be under-estimated. That is why BANCA strongly believes in conservation activities along with community development. The SSG concept has been well implemented in the buffer area of Natmataung National Park. Hence the collaboration among BANCA/Natmataung National Park/BirdLife International/British Embassy/ Hill Ecosystem Conservation Association (HECA- Kanpetlet), Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation Association (IRUDANCA - Mindat) and six SSGs in the buffer zone of the National Park, with the financial assistance mainly from the Darwin Initiative.

SSG members and BirdLife staff on a regular patrol. Photo: Aung Kyaw Nyunt

Text by U Aung Kyaw Nyunt, BANCA

Strengthened Community Natural Resource Management   in Western Siem Pang IBA, Cambodia We are pleased to announce that from 1 April 2006 28 February 2007, DGIS through the BirdLife Secretariat in Cambridge, will support a new project entitled Strengthened Community Natural Resource Management in Western Siem Pang IBA, Cambodia. This project has as goal to significantly improve the management of critical dry forest trapaengs in Western Siem Pang IBA, thereby protecting biodiversity and assisting local communities to reduce poverty. The project has two objectives: To increase capacity among local communities to sustainably manage natural resources and develop best practices skills; and, To facilitate the incorporation of natural resource needs and priorities of local communities into higher decision-making plans. Western Siem Pang (WSP) IBA, a mosaic of open deciduous forest and small seasonal wetlands Seasonal wetland (trapeangs) in Western Siem Pang IBA. (trapeangs), is amongst the most important sites in Photo: BirdLife Cambodia Programme Cambodia for the conservation of globally threatened bird species. WSP supports the only known viable population of the critically endangered Whiteshouldered Ibis Pseudibis davisoni and some of the largest recorded counts of Slender-billed Vulture Gyps tenuirostris and White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis in Indochina. Local human communities in WSP cultivate rain-fed rice in

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34 BirdLife International in Indochina clearings in the forest, seasonally fish and water domestic cattle and water buffalo at trapeangs, collect forest products (most notably extract resin from dipterocarp trees), and fish along the larger rivers and their associated tributaries. With support from the MacArthur Foundation, BirdLife International Cambodia Programme has been working since 2003 to undertake a community based conservation project in Western Siem Pang IBA and adjacent Sekong River IBA. This project has been working collaboratively with local partners to establish Site Support Groups (e.g., local police, relevant natural resource department representatives, local military, government, etc.) that take responsibility for affecting sitebased natural resource management. These SSGs have been taking actions to address locally identified conservation issues, including patrolling, biodiversity and threats monitoring, and awareness raising for local community members. The work of the SSGs to date has highlighted the strong links that exist between biodiversity and human livelihoods, and the need to develop solutions that deliver poverty alleviation and development priorities and conservation benefits. The Cambodia Programme has now secured support from the DGIS Small Grants for SSGs Programme for a project to assist local communities at Siem Pang town to develop best management practices for natural resource utilization at dry forest trapaengs and promote better community stewardship for natural resources in wider Western Siem Pang IBA. This project will work directly through local Site Support Groups to identify households and individuals that rely most heavily on critical trapaengs and seek to cooperatively develop and implement Community Resource Use Agreements. These agreements will aim to sustainably manage resource extraction activities and instil local communities with a greater sense of ownership and responsibility. Concomitantly, this project will work with local communities in Siem Pang town to develop and assist a Community Development Committee whose aim is to meet periodically with the Commune Council and district authorities to discuss and be informed of potential or proposed development initiatives affecting Western Siem Pang IBA. In order to extend the impact of the project beyond the immediate project area, the lessons learned and best practice approaches will be documented, and this experience will be shared with other SSG initiatives in Cambodia and elsewhere.

Text by J C Eames, Programme Manager, BirdLife International in Indochina

Project Review Trip to Western Siem Pang and Sekong River IBAs From 07 - 10 February 2006, Mr Andrew Tordoff, lead a team to Western Siem Pang and Sekong River IBAs in Stung Treng Province, North-East of Cambodia to review a three-year MacArthur-funded project entitled “Conservation of Important Bird Areas in Indochina: strengthening site support groups to conserve critical biodiversity”. In the two selected IBAs, the project focuses on strengthening the capacity of stakeholders to plan, develop and implement conservation action, and establishing Site Support Groups (SSG). With the project’s support and assistance, the SSGs have improved their capacity to design, develop and conduct community-based conservation activities to raise community awareness and pride for the environment. During this trip, the team had chance to meet Government authorities at provincial level in order to get their comments and opinions about the project. The team had a meeting with Va Vuthara, Second Deputy Governor who has provided strong support to BirdLife activities over the years. He congratulated the progress of wildlife conservation activities implemented by BirdLife in Siem Pang District, Stung Treng Province. In addition, he highly appreciated BirdLife project activities not only in terms of wild conservation but also in terms of taking part in building capacity of the local people such as village chiefs, commune councils, and district officers who are also the SSG members. He affirmed that his province would support BirdLife’s proposal to propose Western Siem Pang IBA as protected area to the Government. Mr Dy Sokhom (Forestry Administration in Stung Treng Province) also expressed his thanks to BirdLife for its support in capacity building to Forestry Administration officers, especially technical and equipment support in the law enforcement activities of Forestry Administration in the Siem Pang Area. The review team also conducted a meeting with relevant district authorities and NGOs in the area, such as YWAM (Youth with a Mission). Participants expressed their concern about the Government’s plan in providing this area to a timber company to convert this natural forest into a forest concession. Answering this concern, the review team had informed that BirdLife in collaboration with the Forestry Administration would propose to the Government to establish a wildlife and biodiversity protected area at the site in the nearest future. To date, there is one SSG in Western Siem Pang IBA and one along the Sekong River IBA. Each SSG includes community members, village chiefs, the chairman of commune council, local police, relevant natural resource department representatives, local military, and the deputy district governor. The SSGs have shown initial positive outcomes at the two selected sites. In 2005, they conducted wildlife and biodiversity conservation awareness campaigns in 22 villages inside and around the IBAs, with the participation of 55 local authority’s officers, 67 arm-forces and 183 children at the grade three to six of two primary schools. When it comes to patrolling activities, they confiscated nine long-tail macaques and traps, three parakeets, one eagle, and three fishing cat cubs . All the confiscated species were then released in the deep forest and the traps were destroyed. Some hunters were punished by forcing them to sign on agreement to stop hunting and trapping. Some 41 hunters agreed to sign on this agreement last year. The number of illegal hunting and deforestation cases has decreased as local people

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35 BirdLife International in Indochina are more aware of the need for sustainable natural resource use and so their behavior is changed positively. Mr Poung Lon, the chief of Preak Meas commune and member of Western Siem Pang SSG, expressed his idea that, after 3 years of project implementation in his commune, wildlife populations had increased and deforestation had begun to decrease. He requested BirdLife to continue supporting the SSG’s activities and suggested adding activities to improve the livelihood of community members in the next phase. Mr Andrew Tordoff provided feedback about the positive results of wildlife and biodiversity conservation implemented by the SSGs in Western Siem Pang and Sekong River IBAs. Wildlife population such as Vultures, White-shouldered Ibis, Giant Ibis, Woolly-necked Stock, Lesser Adjutant and River Tern may have increased. The recorded count of Whiteshouldered Ibis of 23 in January 2003, was 33 in November 2004 and 70 in November 2005. The reasons behind this increased count remain unknown.

Vulture restaurant in Western Siem Pang IBA. Photo: Kry Masphal

SSG members at Sekong River IBA meeting at project office. Photo: BirdLife Cambodia Programme Text by Chea Ngeth, BirdLife Cambodia Programme

The Royal Danish Embassy Phnom Penh (Danida) supports project  extension in Cambodia 

Relevant stakeholders visit Beung Preak Lapouv IBA. Photo: Seng Kim Hout

Flock of Sarus Cranes Grus antigone in Beung Preak Lapouv IBA. Photo: Seng Kim Hout

On 11 December 2002, Danida and BirdLife International in Indochina signed a funding agreement to implement a three-year project entitled Community Participation for Conservation in Cambodia with the aim to sustainably improve natural resource management at internationally important sites for conservation in Cambodia. This project has been implemented since July 2004. We are delighted to announce that following discussions the Royla Danish Embassy has agreed to extend project activities by a further year. The Addendum to the project agreement was recently signed by Mr Mogens Laumand Christensen, Danida Resident Representative and Mr Jonathan C. Eames, Programme Manager of BirdLife International in Indochina.

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36 BirdLife International in Indochina The BirdLife Cambodia Programme is now implementing conservation activities in five priority IBAs namely Boeung Prek Lapouv, Kampong Trach, Stung/Chi Kreng/Kampong Svay, Western Siem Pang Area, and the Sekong River thanks to financial support from the Royal Danish Embassy (Danida) and other donor agencies. Text by Bou Vorsak, BirdLife Cambodia Programme

Spotlight organization The Forest Resources, Environment, Development and Conservation Association (FREDA) The Forest Resources, Environment, Development and Conservation Association (FREDA) is a non-political, non-profit and non-government organization founded in 1996 in Myanmar. It is currently composed of over 350 members from various disciplines, comprising forests, biologists, veterinary scientists, engineers, journalists, businessmen and students with an interest in community development and environmental conservation. FREDA is governed by 15member Central Committee, whose Executive Committee oversees day-to-day operations. The existing Executive Committee consists of retired Director Generals and Directors of the Forest Department, and a retired General Manager of Myanmar Timber Enterprise. Since FREDA is strictly a non-government organization, all citizens of Myanmar over the age of 18 years who are not in active service with the government are eligible for membership. FREDA is primarily a forestry-based environmental organization. Its main objective is to assist sustainable forest management, conservation of wildlife and the natural environment, capacity building and community development, through integrated community-participatory projects with emphasis on poverty alleviation and environmental restoration at grassroots levels. In collaboration with international NGOs, FREDA is presently engaged in the implementation of the following activities: •

The Surviving Together Programme to protect wildlife at Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park; supported by David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF), UK.

Study on Sustainable Forest Management based on Community Participation through Development of Economic Incentives and Capability of Community Organizations to help alleviate rural poverty and establish community forests in Kalaw township, Shan State; in collaboration with the Japan Overseas Forestry Consultants Association (JOFCA).

Mangrove Reforestation Project in Bogalay Township of Ayeyarwady Delta to restore depleted mangrove forest areas and improve livelihoods of local communities by establishing community forests with people’s participation; in collaboration with Action for Mangrove Reforestation (ACTMANG), Japan.

Community Development Programme in Kalaw Township, Shan State to improve income, health, education and environment of the ethnic community; supported Georg Kraus Stifung of Germany.

Human Resource Development Programme to support outstanding scholars of local universities studying for BSc, MSc and PhD in various fields related to natural environment, supported by the Nagao Natural Environmental Foundation of Japan.

The Forest Resources, Environment, Development and Conservation Association Telephone: ++95-1-243827. Fax: ++95-1-254074. E-mail: freda@mptmail.net.mm / website: www.fredamyanmar.org Address: Suite 707, 7th Floor, MWEA Tower, 288/290, Shwedagon Pagoda Road, Dagon Township, Yangon, Myanmar.

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37 BirdLife International in Indochina

Publications Conservation of key coastal wetland sites in the Red River Delta: an assessment of IBAs ten years on Nguyen Duc Tu, Le Manh Hung, Le Trong Trai, Ha Quy Quynh, Nguyen Quoc Binh and Thomas, R., (2006). BirdLife International Vietnam Programme, Hanoi, Vietnam. 60 pp. This report has been produced as a result of work funded by the Keidanren Nature Conservation Fund (KNCF) through BirdLife’s Asian Division as part of the Conservation of Important Bird Areas in Asia: follow-up actions for IBAs in Vietnam, Timor-Leste and Mongolia Project. BirdLife International Vietnam Programme conducted a series of field surveys to reassess the biodiversity status of six coastal IBAs in the Red River Delta. Results of those surveys were in the report entitled Conservation of key coastal wetland sites in the Red River Delta: an assessment of IBAs ten years on. The coastal zone of the Red River Delta supports large inshore fishery and aquaculture industries which are dependent on the maintenance of the ecological integrity of the mangrove forests, intertidal areas and associated habitats. As a result of an increasing human population coupled with economic growth, utilisation of natural resources has become intensive throughout the coastal zone and may no longer be sustainable. Project fieldwork was implemented during a five-month period between November 2005 and March 2006. The study, which was fisrt comprehensive assessment on the biodiversity conservation status in the Red River Delta since 1996, confirmed the single most important site for conservation in the Red River Delta is Xuan Thuy National Park, followed in order by Thai Thuy, Tien Hai, Tien Lang, Nghia Hung and An Hai. With an increasing human population and over-exploitation of natural resources, it was predictable that sites without appropriate management would have fared badly since 1996. Nevertheless, it was particularly disappointing to see the decline in Nghia Hung. In 1996, BirdLife recommended this site was worthy of designation under the Ramsar Convention; today it would fail to meet the relevant criteria. Like other sites in the Red River Delta, it has mainly suffered because of over-hunting and habitat loss caused by over-exploitation of its natural resources. Specific conservation management recommendations for each IBA are presented. However, addressing the major issues of continuing habitat loss and over-hunting are urgent conservation priorities if the globally important biodiversity in the Red River Delta is to be conserved for future generations. Building Grassroots Support for Conservation: Lessons learned from BirdLife’s Site Support Groups in Cambodia and Vietnam BirdLife International (2006). BirdLife International Vietnam Programme, Hanoi, Vietnam. 24 pp. In April 2006, BirdLife published a Site Support Group Case Study report, an output of a project funded by the MacArthur Foundation. The report presents BirdLife’s experience with the SSG approach in Cambodia and Vietnam, with the objective of informing the development and implementation of similar conservation initiatives in these countries and elsewhere. Recognising the importance and urgency of saving the unique ecosystems of the Annamese Lowlands and Cambodian Dry Forests, the MacArthur Foundation provided funding in 2003 for this project. With BirdLife International as the implementing partner, the past three years have seen proactive community and stakeholder engagement to establish pilot SSGs at the local level. This project is contributing towards the wider goal of establishing a network of well-managed Important Bird Areas (IBAs) – keys sites for the conservation of birds and other biodiversity – throughout Asia. BirdLife hopes that the launch of this report will help promote the SSG approach that has been showing positive results in biodiversity conservation in the region. You can download the available soft-copy of the report from the website of BirdLife International in Indochina (www.birdlifeindochina.org) or contact Ms. Do Bao Quyen at birdlife@birdlife.netnam.vn for free hard-copies.

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Book reviews Monographie des Faisans [Monograph of the Pheasants]: Volume 1 By Hennache, A. and Ottaviani, M. (2005). Edition W.P.A France, Clères, France. ISBN 2-9512467-1-4. 357 pp This impressive book, published in 2005 by World Pheasant Association France, is the first of a two-volume series, which reviews the available knowledge on all currently recognised pheasant species at the beginning of the 21st Century. The book begins with a series of general but detailed introductory chapters on the state of taxonomic knowledge, in situ and ex situ conservation, captive breeding, and regulations on trade and husbandry of pheasants. These chapters are followed by an introduction to each pheasant genus, with a detailed account of each species. This volume covers the genera Ithaginis, Tragopan, Pucrasia, Lophophorus and Lophura, while the genera Crossoptilon, Syrmaticus, Phasianus, Catreus, Chrysolophus, Polyplectron, Rheinardia, Argusianus, Pavo and Afropavo will be covered in the second volume. The species accounts are illustrated by beautiful photographs of birds in captivity and the wild, and clear maps, showing the relative distributions of species within each genus. Details on description, distribution, sub-species, nomenclature, habitat, diet, behaviour (social and non-social), mating display, nesting, predation and competition, status and conservation, legal status, captive population, and husbandry are provided for each species, in French. Of particular interest for students of Indochinese ornithology, the authors treat Imperial Pheasant as a hybrid between Edwards's Pheasant Lophura edwardsi and Silver Pheasant L. nycthemera, based on mitochondrial DNA analysis plus cross-breeding experiments using captive birds. A photograph of one of the offspring from the cross-breeding experiments, phenotypically similar to wild caught Imperial Pheasants from Vietnam, is presented in the book, together with a photograph of the immature Imperial Pheasant captured in Dakrong district in February 2000. The treatment of Imperial Pheasant as a hybrid is followed by BirdLife International. Of further interest, the authors treat Vietnamese Pheasant as a subspecies of Edwards's Pheasant, rather than a separate species (as followed by BirdLife). On the basis of morphological studies of captive birds, the authors observe that the key character distinguishing Vietnamese Pheasant from Edwards's Pheasant (i.e. white central tail feathers in the former) is variable in number and degree of symmetry, and that the only constant characters are shared with Edwards's Pheasant. Recent cross-breeding experiments and mitochondrial DNA analysis lend weight to the hypothesis that white central tail feathers are an expression of either a mutant recessive gene or a rare allele that has become fixed in an isolated population. From a conservation perspective, the implications of this taxonomic treatment are not huge. Edwards's Pheasant is currently assessed as globally endangered by BirdLife International, and, even if populations of Vietnamese Pheasant were included, this assessment would not change. Whether separate species or conspecific, Edwards's and Vietnamese Pheasant remain high priorities for conservation. Text by Andrew Tordoff â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Programme Officer at BirdLife International Asia Division

Evaluation of the Implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Vietnam by Vietnam Environment Protection Agency (2006) 20 pp Being introduced in 1992, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is considered as a commitment of the international community to conserve and utilize the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s biodiversity in a sustainable way and to equally share benefits provided by this special resource. Vietnam ratified this Convention in 1994. Since then, the Government of Vietnam has paid great attention to and significantly invested in the improvement of its capacity in both terms of human and material resources, aiming at realizing its commitment and obligations to the Convention. More importantly, the country aims at the conservation and sustainable use of its highly prosperous and valuable biological resources. A series of priority actions and initiatives has been introduced and implemented. These include designing, improving and enforcing policies and laws related to biodiversity; extended planning, establishing and managing protected areas; making researches, educating and

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39 BirdLife International in Indochina raising awareness of the society on biodiversity protection and so on. Such efforts have helped to effectively conserve the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s biological resources, ensuring the environmental safety, making a good contribution to the task of poverty alleviation and realizing the objectives of comprehensive and sustainable development of Vietnam. This publication provides the readers with adequate amount of information about the process of implementing the Convention on Biological Diversity in Vietnam. Major achievements, the obstacle that need to be overcome and the tasks that need to be fulfilled in the future in order to effectively enforce the Convention will also be mentioned.

A Wetland Inventory for Myanmar Davies, J., Sebastian, A.C. & Chan, S. (2004). Ministry of Environment Japan. ISBN 974-93639-0-6. 591pp This document is a wetland inventory for Myanmar. The inventory was carried out between 2000 and 2004, and represents the first attempt to provide systematic documentation of the wetlands of Myanmar. The undertaking was developed and coordinated by the Wild Bird Society of Japan (WBSJ), in collaboration with the Nature and Wildlife Conservation Division (NWCD) of the Forest Department, Myanmar. Funding was provided by the Ministry of the Environment, Japan (MOEJ). Field surveys were conducted over the course of three years. The 99 sites covered in the inventory are divided into two categories: those that were visited by the survey team and those that were surveyed by staff of NWCD. Additional information on these latter sites were compiled from literature and from available information provided by sources within Myanmar. The sites covered by the survey team were chosen primarily based on information from the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) coordinated by Wetlands International, the only recent indicator of site significance available. While the presence of waterbirds is a good indicator of site significance, it is not the only criterion. The inventory acknowledges that there are likely to be wetlands that have not been covered by the AWC, or do not support significant numbers of waterbirds, but are significant representations of Myanmarâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wetlands. The inventory will be an important decision-making tool for Myanmar. It also lays the way for future work. It is hoped that this effort will spur initiatives to further knowledge on what is undoubtedly one of the richest frontiers of natural history in Asia.

Staff news Vietnam office

throughout the region.

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John Pilgrim started work as Conservation Advisor with BirdLife International in Indochina, based in Hanoi, at the beginning of April. After an educational background in ecology in England, he combined his main interests in ornithology and tropical forests by participating in extended fieldwork projects in Indonesia, Kenya, and Papua New Guinea. John gained his first experience with BirdLife International in 1999 during the collation of Threatened Birds of the World. This was followed by almost six years employment with Conservation International, including the last few years with the Global Conservation Fund where he used his knowledge of global biodiversity and conservation planning to assist in funding decisions and the design of funded projects. In his new position, John will help BirdLife programme staff in Indochina to directly apply these skills to the design, implementation, monitoring and reporting of a variety of policy, conservation planning, and protected area projects. Through such strengthened capacity, we hope that BirdLife can play a more effective role in conservation


40 BirdLife International in Indochina

Do Bao Quyen has been working as an Administrative Officer in BirdLife Vietnam Programme since January 2006, undertaking a range of administrative and logistical duties for the smooth operation of BirdLife Office in Vietnam. Graduating from Faculty of English Study, College of Foreign Languages, Hanoi National University she had four year working experience as a secretary for a Japanese Construction Company before joining BirdLife Vietnam Programme team. She hopes to improve her skills to contribute to the development of BirdLife.

Nguyen Thi Luong Duyen and Vu Thi Minh Phuong two dedicated and long-serving members of staff, have recently left us to take up new posts. They were recently involved in implementing a MacArthur-funded project based in Quang Binh and Quang Tri provinces. In their time with us they both made an important contribution to the development of the BirdLife Vietnam Programme. We wish Duyen and Phuong every success for the future.

Myanmar office BirdLife welcomes two new members of staff in Myanmar, Aung Pyeh Khant who is leading the Gurney's Pitta research team since March 2006 and Khin Maung Soe who is his assistant. Aung Pyeh Khant was born in 1971 in Than Taung, Kayin State. In 1995, he completed his BSc (Hons) in Zoology from Yangon University. He then continued his masters degree in Zoology. During that time he joined general wildlife surveys and wildlife trade surveys along the Myanmar-Thailand and Myanmar-China border for WWF-Thailand and TRAFFIC as a volunteer. In May 2001, he began another masters degree in the field of Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System (GIS) at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) and completed it in December 2002. During his study at AIT, he also worked for a UNHCR-WWF pilot project of ‘Early Warning-Impact of Refugee on Protected Areas’ along the Myanmar-Thailand border. Later then he worked as a research associate for National Space Development Agency of Japan under a project of Greater Mekong Sub-region Development Program. In 2003, he moved to National Science and Technology Development Agency of Thailand and worked as a Research Associate for Biodiversity Research and Training Programme. In June 2004, he continued his PhD in Biology at Mahidol University, Thailand. During his study there, he also worked as a GIS consultant for the Wildlife Conservation Society and World Bank’s North-east Thailand Economics Development Project and Thailand Environmental Monitoring Program.

U Khin Maung Soe was born in Saw Township, Magwe Division. He is now 40 years old. He obtained his B.A (Geography) degree from Magwe University. He joined the Forest Department of Myanmar in 1986 as a forester in Shwesettaw Wildlife Sanctuary. Eight years later, he was promoted to become a park ranger. In 1999, he became a range officer. After one year working in Popa Mountain National Park, he served as a park warden (range officer) in Minsonetaung Wildlife Sanctuary for three years and was transferred back to Shwesettaw Wildlife Sanctuary as a range officer. He left the Forest Department in October 2005 and then became an active member of Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (BANCA). He has been contracted by BirdLife International as an Assistant Project Officer, to assist research on Gurney's Pitta in Tanintharyi Division. U Khin Maung Soe has vast experiences to resolve park issues based on training courses he has attended, namely: (a) Two-year basic forestry course in 1994-96 at Myanmar Forest School, Pyin Oo Lwin; (b) Training course on handling of forestry operation equipment at Central Forestry Development Training Center in 1997; (c) Tiger conservation training course in Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park in 1998; (d) Training course on conservation and management of wildlife and wild plants held at Guwahati, Assam, India in 1999; and (e) Training course on protected area management held at Hlawga Park, Yangon.

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Cambodia office Sean C. Austin In February we said goodbye to Sean Austin after nearly three years working as Cambodia Country Programme Manager. He has taken a new position in The Nature Conservancy in Palau. He can be reached at his new email address: scaust1@hotmail.com. Kry Masphal also left BirdLife on 31st January 2006, after three years working as project officer on a MacArthur-funded project. He will continue his Master Degree of Environment Management in South Korea. His new email address is masphalsnu@yahoo.com We would like to take this opportunity to thank Sean and Masphal for their dedication and contribution to the development of BirdLife’s conservation projects in Cambodia. We wish Sean and Masphal good luck and great success for the future.

From the Archives

This photograph taken at Htawgaw in Kachin State in 1938 or 1939, shows the members of the Verney-Cutting Expedition. This team undertook the first major biological and botanical exploration of the Imawbun area. The same area that BirdLife/BANCA have been working as part of a Darwin-funded project. The total bird collection numbered 1,505 specimens and was described by Dr Ernst Mayr as “certainly a brilliant achievement for a single expedition.” They are, form left to right, J K Stanford, Frank Kingdon-Ward, Arthur Vernay and Harold Anthony. Not shown is Suydam Cutting, who took the photograph and from whose 1947 book, The Fire Ox and Other Years the photograph is reproduced.

The Babbler - May 2006

The Babbler 17  

Quarterly newsletter of BirdLife International in Indochina (May 2006)