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BirdLife International in Indochina

September 2008 Number 27 Welcome to The Babbler 27 covering the period July to September 2008. This quarter we have a guest editor, Simon Mahood, owing to Jonathan’s absence. Jonathan is on sabbatical in Madagascar, and will return as editor in the next quarter. In this issue we showcase the launch of the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund in Indochina in a feature article. This is a historic event for BirdLife in the region, because it marks the transition of BirdLife in Indochina from being solely a grant recipient, to being a divulger of conservation funds. There is no doubt that the launch of CEPF is one of the most important events in the regional conservation arena in recent years. This event also means the arrival of new staff to our offices in Hanoi and Phnom Penh, and indeed this quarter is marked by a great number of new staff. We extend a warm BirdLife International in Indochina is a subregional programme of the BirdLife welcome to all of these new members of our team. This quarter we also report on the first fruits from the studies of two PhD students which we Secretariat operating in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. It cursupport, namely Hugh Wright and Charlotte Packman; and once again rently has two offices in the region: report on further disturbing dam projects planned for Cambodia and Vietnam. Vietnam Programme Office, N6/2+3,

Welcome Features The launch of the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund in Indochina Status of nesting seabirds of Con Dao Questioning the MRC’s sustainable hydropower development Regional news Long-lost Charadrius plover rediscovered Good news and bad news for primates Important Bird Area news Reports from IBAs in Cambodia Rarest of the rare Project updates The Biodiversity Conservation Corridors Initiative in a nutshell White-shouldered Ibis and Bengal Florican research findings MacArthur second year annual report Kon Ka Kinh—Kon Cha Rang end of project report Two new species from Chu Yang Sin Publications Reviews Staff news From the archives This feature returns next quarter

Lane 25, Lang Ha Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi, Vietnam. Tel: +84(0)4 3514890 Cambodia Programme Office, #25B Street 294, PO Box 2686 Tonle Basac, Phnom Penh, Cambodia Tel/Fax: +85523993631

The Babbler September 2008

Simon Mahood, Conservation Advisor BirdLife International Vietnam Programme The Babbler is the quarterly newsletter of BirdLife International in Indochina and this quarter is compiled and edited by Simon Mahood The views expressed are those of contributors and are not necessarily those of BirdLife International. 1

BirdLife International in Indochina

Features The launch of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund in Indochina What is CEPF? The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, or CEPF for short, is designed to safeguard Earth’s biologically richest and most threatened regions, known as biodiversity hotspots. CEPF is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the World Bank. A fundamental purpose of CEPF is to engage civil society in biodiversity conservation in the hotspots. CEPF promotes working alliances among diverse groups, combining unique capacities and reducing duplication of efforts for a comprehensive, coordinated approach to conservation. In Indochina, CEPF has allocated $9.5 million for biodiversity conservation. BirdLife's role as CEPF Regional Implementation Team in Indochina BirdLife International in Indochina was selected to provide the Regional Implementation Team (RIT) for CEPF in this region. As RIT, BirdLife will provide strategic leadership and effective coordination of CEPF investment. By this selection, BirdLife has received well-deserved recognition for its effective contribution to biodiversity conservation in Indochina. This also elevates BirdLife Indochina’s role in the region, “not only as a grant recipient but also as a grant administrator” said Jonathan Eames, Programme Manager of BirdLife International in Indochina. Indeed, this new initiative is a close collabora

The CEPF Regional Implementation Team at the launch of CEPF in Indochina The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina tion between BirdLife International and CEPF. “We have worked closely with CEPF over a number of years to realize this exciting new project and we are delighted to have now reached the point of implementation”, said Jonathan Eames. BirdLife will convert the plans in the ecosystem profile into a cohesive portfolio of grants that exceed in impact the sum of their parts, by raising awareness of CEPF among potential grantees, encouraging strategic alliances among potential grantees, helping potential grantees to develop proposals, directly making small grants, jointly making decisions on large grants with the CEPF Secretariat, and supporting and monitoring implementation of funded projects with grantees. BirdLife will engage other stakeholders in overseeing CEPF implementation by establishing national advisory groups and technical review groups. Launch of CEPF and media coverage The CEPF was formally launched, and a call for Letters of Inquiry (LoIs) issued, on 22nd August 2008 for the Indochina part of the Indo-Burma Biodiversity Hotspot, one of the most threatened of Earth’s 34 biodiversity hotspots. The launch occurred during a visit of CEPF staff to the offices of BirdLife International in Indochina in Hanoi. Interviews and press releases resulting from the launch were covered by national radio and nearly 40 newspapers and websites. The press release and call for LoIs were also provided in English, Khmer, or Vietnamese to potential grantees in the region via a developing mailing list, and substantial additional information is also provided on the website Potential grantees wishing to join the mailing list should contact

The Regional Implementation Team entertained CEPF staff at Cuc Phuong National Park, where they experienced some of its distinctive avifauna

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BirdLife International in Indochina CEPF investment strategy and program focus The CEPF investment strategy is fully explained in an Ecosystem Profile, which can be found in full in English at or in full Vietnamese or summarised in English or Khmer at In Indochina, funding will be focused on two large landscapes— the Northern Highlands Limestone, and Mekong River and Major Tributaries—and 28 key biodiversity areas within them. Sixty-seven animal species and all 248 globally threatened plant species will also be priorities for investment more widely in Indochina CEPF is more than just a fund for biodiversity conservation since it also aims to build a broad constituency of civil society groups working across institutional and political boundaries toward achieving shared conservation goals. This strategy complements many existing funds that support government conservation efforts.

Na Hang Nature Reserve, a stunning example of the Northern Highlands Limestone (Photo J. C. Eames)

Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus, one of the CEPF priority species (Photo J. C. Eames) The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina Civil society and biodiversity conservation in Indochina Civil society is rather a new concept for many people in Indochina. It can be viewed as organisations set up by citizens to provide opportunities for themselves to improve their living conditions outside of normal political channels. Civil society globally may support government activities, be complementary to state programmes, or even campaign to improve government plans or policies. However, the concept and development level of civil society varies from one country to another, depending on the local situation. Civil society organisations active in biodiversity conservation in Indochina can be broadly grouped into local organisations and international organisations (CEPF, 2007). Local organisations include community-based organisations, national non-governmental organisations (NGOs), academic institutions, private companies, and faith-based organisations. Relative to many other regions of the world, local civil society groups in Indochina have only recently begun to organize to address environmental concerns. There are relatively few national NGOs active in biodiversity conservation, and these are frequently limited in terms of capacity, political leverage, and program development. Community-based organisations are at varying stages of development but, in general, the potential to engage them in biodiversity conservation remains largely untapped. In each country, there are national academic institutions with capacity to undertake applied biodiversity research and, in some cases, on-the-ground conservation action. With a few exceptions, the private sector in the region is generally not engaged in conservation. Faith-based organisations can also play an important role in conservation in the region, through both promoting positive attitudes toward environmental protection and taking on-the-ground action.

Members of the Vietnam Birdwatching Club, an example of a civil society organization, enjoying a day of birdwatching at Xuan Thuy National park, Vietnam The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina Many organisations broadly classed as 'civil society' in the countries with governing communist parties of Indochina are actually state-sponsored and funded, and act in support of state policy (Thayer 2008). Such organisations are not so commonly viewed as civil society in the more democratic countries of Indochina, such as Thailand or Cambodia, where more developed civil society already exists. Organisations that most exemplify civil society and can build civil society capacity are particularly encouraged to apply for CEPF funding in Indochina. Applications that include civil society actors with limited capacity, who may not otherwise be eligible or able to apply – for example, community groups – are also encouraged. Further, individuals are encouraged to work with civil society organisations to develop applications, rather than to apply directly. Expected impacts on the development of civil society in Indochina There has been significant government and donor funding for biodiversity conservation in the region, but a large share of these investments comes to government-owned institutions. An example is the Vietnam Conservation Fund (VCF), established in 2005, which provides funding to government protected area management boards. There is thus an important niche for CEPF funding to engage civil society in biodiversity conservation, and to build local civil society capacity to carry out biodiversity conservation when governments do not put sufficient priority on healthy environments and sustainable development. Civil society is already growing strongly in most countries in the region. CEPF hopes to encourage this growth, ensure its sustainability, and help develop biodiversity conservation capacity in a region where civil society is currently overwhelmingly focused on development or 'brown' conservation issues such as pollution. During CEPF investment in the region, a pilot civil society tracking tool will be used with local grantees to help CEPF monitor the impact of its investment on civil society development in the region. Expected impacts on biodiversity conservation in Indochina Indochina has an impressive geographic diversity, as a result of which it supports a wide variety of habitats and thus high overall biodiversity (CEPF, 2007). However, biodiversity and natural resources in the region are under unprecedented pressure owing to threats from economic development and an increasing human population, needing urgent and comprehensive actions (MoNRE et al., 2005; CEPF, 2007). The region is thus facing a critical time when its unique and irreplaceable biodiversity can either be conserved, or sacrificed forever. “The remaining natural habitats in Indochina are the regions' real wealth” said John Watkin, CEPF Grant Director at Conservation International, “with only 5% of the original habitat remaining these tiny fragments are extremely threatened by human pressure and commercial exploitation. Immediate action is required to save these habitats and species that have huge cultural significance to the people of Indochina. If they are lost, we are all poorer.” Recognizing the importance of conserving biodiversity, significant investments have already been made in biodiversity conservation in Indochina. The CEPF investment strategy aims to complement this through civil society initiatives targeting under-funded areas and species (CEPF, 2007). As a result, it is hoped that the extinction risk of threatened species will be lowered, and threats – particularly from overexploitation – lowered in key areas (particularly the 28 key biodiversity areas in the two priority corridors). CEPF alone cannot conserve all biodiversity in the region, but it can make a start and also buy time - helping to provide the civil society foundation for future conservation and sustainable development efforts. As Jonathan Eames has said, “The mobilization of CEPF for this region will at last provide an important source of funding for civil society to address the daunting array of challenges biodiversity faces.”

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BirdLife International in Indochina References 1. CEPF (Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund) (2007) Ecosystem Profile: Indo-Burma Biodiversity Hotspot. Indochina Region. CEPF, Washington D.C. Available from 2. MoNRE (Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment), the World Bank, and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (2005). Vietnam Environment Monitor 2005: Biodiversity. World Bank, Hanoi. 3. Thayer, C. A. (2008). One Party Rule and the Challenge of Civil Society in Vietnam, Presentation to Remaking the Vietnamese State: Implications for Viet Nam and the Region, Vietnam Workshop, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, August 21-22, 2008. 4. Vietnam Conservation Fund (VCF). (2008). Available from Vietnam Conservation Fund's website ( Dao Van Hien, Project Officer for Vietnam and Laos Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund-Regional Implementation Team (CEPF-RIT) Dao Van Hien would like to thank John Pilgrim and the other member of the CEPF-RIT for their help with producing this article.

Status of nesting seabirds and other key bird species of Con Dao National Park, Ba Ria Vung Tau Province, Vietnam With the financial support of Nagao Natural Environment Foundation, field surveys have been implemented during 2007 and 2008 at 7 different islets within Con Dao District: Con Son, Bay Canh, Trung, Tre Nho, Tre Lon, Ba and Troc. Six nesting seabird species were recorded: Great Crested Tern Sterna bergii (5,500), Bridled Tern Sterna anaethetus (7,000), Black-naped Tern Sterna sumatra (800), Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii (500), Brown Booby Sula leucogaster (70), Brown Noddy Anous stolidus (150). Trung island have identified as the most important nesting site for Great Crested Tern, Bridled Tern, Brown Booby and Brown Noddy; Tre Nho Island is the best place for Black-naped Tern, and Troc Island is best for Roseate Tern.

Great Crested Terns and a Bridled Tern on Trung Island (Photo: Le Manh Hung) The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina The other key species recorded during the survey is Nicobar Pigeon Caloenas nicobarica (Globally Nearthreatened), at least 26 birds have been recorded and distributed at four different islands: Con Son, Bay Canh, Tre Lon and Tre Nho. Two nests have been recorded at Tre Nho island. This is the first officially confirm recorded of Nicobar Pigeon for over half a century in Vietnam, this qualifies Con Dao national park to be new Important Bird Area .

A Nicobar Pigeon on Tre Nho island, the first confirmed record of this species in Vietnam in over half a century (Photo: Le Manh Hung)

The main threats for the nesting seabird and other key bird species at Con Dao national park include egg collecting during the breeding season (mostly at Trung island) and invasion of alien species such as cat and rats (Tre Nho island). Thousand eggs of Bridled Tern and Great Crested Tern have been collected by local fisherman when we have surveyed on July 2007 at Trung island, at least four local boats landing at the island that time. Our survey team had to spend at least two hours to put all of the eggs back to the nests. Other serious threat is the release of one domestic cat at Tre Nho island, this Cat is now out of the control of forest guards and freely lives in the wild. The main food for this cat during the breeding season is the eggs and juvenile birds breeding at the island including Bridled Tern, Black-naped Tern and Pied Imperial Pigeon. One of the main purpose of our field surveys were try to find the possibility of globally critical endanger Chinese Crested Tern Sterna bernsteini at Trung island, but we have failed to find the occurrence of this species during the last surveys. However, the difficult to approach the island and surveyed on the island during the breeding time (avoid the eggs and disturbed birds) have prevented us to have more time and chances to find the species. The best time to survey at Trung island should be at the end of July. The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina

Con Dao national park have identified as the last remaining site for some of the key above nesting seabird species within Vietnam, the following works should be done to in order to protect those species’ populations: 1) Patrol to prevent the local boatman collecting the eggs during the breeding time; 2) education works should be carry out to raise awareness of local communities about an important of the species (particularly focus on the local fisherman; 3) Control the alien species and; 4) more surveys and efforts should be done in order to find the globally critical endanger Chinese Crested Tern and detail study of other nesting seabird species.

Eggs of Bridled and Great Crested Terns, collected by local fisherman for sale in local markets. This level of exploitation is unlikely to be sustainable. (Photo Le Manh Hung).

Le Manh Hung Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources Vietnam Birdwatching Club

The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina

Questioning the MRC's "Sustainable hydropower development Extensive hydropower development continues to threaten the ecological integrity of the Mekong River Basin almost a year after 201 organizations and individuals from 30 countries called on the Mekong River Commission (MRC) to sound the alarm on the serious consequence of hydropower dam development on the lower Mekong River. The MRC has continued to fail in promoting the findings of its own scientific research to the public and to the region's governments that points towards the fact that extensive hydropower development will threaten the river ecosystems and the livelihoods of riparian communities. Instead, the MRC has delayed action and only initiated further research, planning exercises, and dialogues, leaving a vacuum of accountability that has allowed hydropower developers to take their projects forward unchallenged. It is now time that the MRC's role is reviewed to ensure it is acting in the manner befitting an objective, scientific river basin management organization that it was set up to be. An important first step would be for the MRC to publicly call for a dam development moratorium until scientific evidence of the individual and cumulative impacts of dam development is in the public domain and all party stakeholders including public consensus has been achieved on the best way forward. Otherwise, the MRC's role in the future is in doubt. Unfortunately, historical precedent indicates that reform may be beyond the MRC. The MRC's precursors - known as the Mekong Committee from the 1950s until the Mekong Secretariat in 1994 - have actually supported damming the Mekong River's mainstream and major tributaries by developing various hydropower masterplans. The MRC's recent behind-closed-doors role in advising the Lao government on the Don Sahong Dam would suggest that little has changed; the MRC has yet to publicly release its study of the Don Sahong's draft Environmental Impact Assessment report, despite a request by letter from civil society in March 2008. That the MRC continues to withhold scientific information of critical interest to the public interest is of serious concern, and undermines the trust that it hopes to build with civil society groups. The only way for the MRC to prove that it is capable of generating objective scientific data is to open its results and conclusions to public scrutiny. The MRC's unwillingness to do so is beyond comprehension, but not beyond suspicion. Throughout the region, the many hydropower projects now planned for the Mekong basin are justified by electricity planning processes that are kept behind closed doors whcih are biased towards developing large power projects. These planning processes have not promoted energy efficiency, demand side management measures, nor renewable and decentralized energy technologies to their full potential. Although environmentally sustainable and socially desirable solutions to meeting the Mekong region's energy needs do exist, they are not being considered in any regional energy plan at the expense of promoting the region's financial economy.

The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina The MRC has declared itself a supporter of "sustainable hydropower development", but has failed to define the term or even to ensure compliance to its 1995 Mekong Agreement, as demonstrated by the suffering caused by Vietnam's hydropower dams on the Sesan River to downstream communities in Cambodia and its failure to adhere to its commitment "to make every effort to avoid, minimize and mitigate harmful effects (Article 7)." Implementation of the 1995 Mekong Agreement together with globally recognized best-practice standards for energy and water sector development is urgently needed. The World Commission on Dams framework, which provides a comprehensive set of principles and guidelines from planning to decommissioning of dam projects, can help to better define how hydropower development should occur. Large hydropower dams - especially on the Mekong River's mainstream - reflect an outdated development model. In the Mekong region and around the world, the larger body of evidence points to the unsustainable cost of large dam development and the costs inflicted on communities once dependent on these rivers The experience of hydropower throughout the Mekong Region has been that of unsustainable and unjust development. From Chiang Khong in Northern Thailand to Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri Provinces in Cambodia, tens of thousands of dam-affected villagers have suffered the loss of their fisheries, irregular water flows, poor water quality, and the loss of their rivers biodiversity without consultation, compensation or redress. The Mekong River is a fisheries-rich river on which millions of people living under the poverty line depend for their food security; and that is also a significant contributor to the region's economy. Before moving forward with its Hydropower Programme, the MRC - and its funders - must publicly declare the standards that they will work to uphold and how they will be clearly accountable to the regional public. Only, once standards are declared and there is review and recognition of the MRC's past failures, can the MRC begin working towards the sustainable river management urgently needed by the millions who rely on the river as their lifeblood. The Rivers Coalition in Cambodia (RCC), 24 September 2008

Regional news Long-lost Charadrius plover rediscovered Abstract from Kennerley et al. (2008) Observations involving several pale Charadrius plovers associating with Kentish Plovers Charadrius alexandrinus in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, which do not resemble any known taxon, are discussed. Evidence is presented which establishes that these birds are Aegialites [Charadrius] dealbatus, described by Robert Swinhoe in 1870 as a species distinct from Kentish Plover. Subsequent confusion has resulted in this name being applied to the form of Kentish Plover that occurs in abundance in East and South-East Asia, while the true taxon dealbatus has been overlooked by almost all subsequent taxonomists, and mistakenly described and illustrated as Kentish Plover in all studies of this taxon. This paper suggests that this confusion arose, in part, due to misconceptions over the appearance of dealbatus, which resulted in many museum specimens of Kentish Plover from East Asia being incorrectly identified and erroneously labeled as dealbatus. The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina Swinhoe did not designate a type specimen when he described dealbatus, and this was only done in 1896, from a composite series of Swinhoe’s specimens held at BM(NH) that comprised two taxa. Here, we formally select and describe a lectotype of Aegialites [Charadrius] dealbatus from Swinhoe’s pre-1870 specimens, list all known Swinhoe specimens of the composite taxa as paralectotypes of Aegialites [Charadrius] dealbatus and establish which specimens represent this taxon and which are Kentish Plover. Comparison with other small Charadrius plovers occurring in South-East Asia establishes the diagnosibilty of dealbatus as a distinct taxon that differs in aspects of plumage, behaviour, habitat preference and breeding distribution from the commonly occurring Kentish Plover in East and South-East Asia. Consistent morphological differences from Kentish Plover include a larger and heavier bill with a pale base to the lower mandible, pale pinkish-grey legs, light sandy-brown upperparts and a longer and more conspicuous wing bar, particularly across the primaries. We describe plumages differences between sexes and age classes, and compare dealbatus with Kentish and Malaysian Plover C. peronii. The breeding range remains uncertain but probably lies in coastal South China, and evidence suggests that dealbatus is allopatric with Kentish Plover, which breeds in northern China. An investigation to establish the phylogenetic relationship between dealbatus and other small Charadrius plovers is currently in progress. If dealbatus proves to be distinct at the species level, we recommend that the name Charadrius dealbatus with the English name ‘White-faced Plover’ is adopted. The name Charadrius alexandrinus nihonensis is available for the largerbilled form of Kentish Plover breeding in north-eastern Asia. The true taxon dealbatus is believed to be rare but probably under-recorded. Abstract taken from: Kennerley, P. R. Bakewell, D. N., Round, P. D. (2008) Rediscovery of a long-lost Charadrius plover from South-East Asia. Forktail 24: 63-79

Adult male White-faced Plover (left) and female Kentish Plover (February 6 2007) On the male note the entirely white loral region and ear coverts, the broad white and black bands across the forehead and the bright orange crown. (Photo: David Bakewell)

The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina

Non-breeding adult White-faced Plover (right) and Kentish Plover (left) (21 November 2006), as they are likely to look in Vietnam in the autumn. (Photo: David Bakewell)

First confirmed record of Alström’s Warbler in Laos On 29 January 2005 I was birding in central Laos near the village of Ban Naphong on highway 8, some 14 km east of the main north-south highway 13, at an altitude of c.200 m (at c.17º56’N 104º27’E). The area is dominated by outcrops and spectacular ridges of limestone karst. There was closed canopy forest in the valley floor, but more patchy, rather stunted forest with a broken canopy on the karst slopes. At around 09h30 I ventured some 20 m up the karst slope and had the good fortune to come on a foraging party of five Sooty Babblers Stachyris herberti. The babblers remained in the area for 20 minutes. During this time I heard sharp, high pitched calls coming from the valley-floor understorey just below me. I recognised the calls as being those of Alström’s Warbler, and using a Sennheiser microphone and Sony Walkman cassette player I made a 50-second recording which includes an irregular sequence of nine monosyllabic call-notes and six disyllabic call-notes. I had several breif views of the calling bird at c.25 m. Given the known wintering range in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, the occurance of Alström’s Wabler in Laos is not at all surprising and further records in central and southern Laos can be expected. Abridged text from: Dymond, N. (2008) First confirmed record of Alström’s Wabler Seicercus soror in Laos, with comments on its staus in South-East Asia. Forktail 24: 129-130

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BirdLife International in Indochina

A taxonomic revision of Greater Rufous-headed Parrotbill Three subspecies of Greater Rufous-headed Parrotbill Paradoxis ruficeps are traditionally recognized, namely P.r. ruficeps, P.r. bakeri and P. r. magnirostris. However, the taxa differ in both somgs and plumage. The songs of P. r. ruficeps is a clear, sweet whistle of 4-6 notes, tripping down the scale; in contrast, that of P.r. bakeri and P. r. magnirostris is a more complex assemblage of different-sounding notes: one or two short, sharp, staccato introductory notes, followed by somewhat reedy whistled notes, the final ones of which are prolonged. The most striking plumage difference between P. r. ruficeps and P. r. bakeri is the colour of the underparts: white with a buffer tinge in the former, and bright buff with the centre of the belly paler buff in the latter. There is also a sharp contrast between the rufous cheeks and white throat of P. r. ruficeps while in P. r. bakeri the rufous cheeks contrast much less with the bright buff of the throat. In P. r. ruficeps there is a slight rufescent tinge to the primaries and secondaries which is entirely missing in P. r. bakeri. P. r. magnirostris is almost indistinguishable from P. r. bakeri. We propose that ruficeps and bakeri be considered distinct species and that magnirostris be treated as a subspecies of bakeri. We propose the English name Rufous-headed Parrotbill for P. bakeri (including P. b. magnirostris) and the name White-breasted Parrotbill for P. ruficeps. We further suggest that the English name Pale-billed Parrotbill be used for Paradoxornis atrosuperciliaris. Abridged text from: King, B., Robson, C. (2008) The taxonomic status of the three subspecies of Greater Rufous-headed Parrotbill Paradoxornis ruficeps Forktail 24: 120-122

White-breasted Parrotbill Paradoxornis ruficeps the sharp contrast between the rufous cheeks and white throat can be clearly seen in this photograph. (Photo J. C. Eames) The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina

Hairy-nosed Otter found at U Minh Ha National Park, Vietnam The field team of the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Program came face-to-face with two Hairynosed Otters in their latest surveys of U Minh Ha National Park, Mekong Delta Vietnam. The Hairynosed Otter (Lutra sumatrana) is arguably the rarest species of otter in the world and is without doubt the least known of the 13 otter species worldwide. This is the first time the presence of a Hairy-nosed Otter has been confirmed anywhere in Vietnam since 2000. The Hairy-nosed Otter was thought to be extinct throughout the world in the 1990s. However, it recently was rediscovered in Cambodia, Thailand, and in Indonesian Sumatra and Borneo. In Vietnam, the most recent record of this species is from 2000 in U Minh Thuong National Park by the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources. So little is known about this species that it is currently listed as Data Deficient in the IUCN Red List. However, the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Otter Action Plan defines the Hairy-nosed Otter as a species of global conservation concern. The Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Program has been conducting field surveys in U Minh Peat swamp forests since September 2007. In March 2008, whilst night spotting the field team discovered two Hairy-nosed Otters along a canal bank in U Minh Ha National Park, Ca Mau Province. “We were only about two and half metres away from them when we spotted the two otters. It was truly amazing to see such a rare species in the wild,” said Nguyen Van Nhuan, Research Officer, the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Program. “The Hairy-nosed Otter is notoriously shy and mostly nocturnal. They eat fish, frogs, reptiles, snakes, and insects. Their survival is critically linked to protection of their habitat which is peat swampland and seasonally flooded forests,” said Nguyen Van Nhuan. Vietnam is home to four species of otter, including the Hairy-nosed Otter (Lutra sumatrana), the Smoothcoated Otter (Lutra perspicillata), Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra), and Oriental small-clawed Otter (Aonyx cinerea). All four species are seriously threatened by habitat disturbance and hunting for skins, medicine and meat. Human impacts on their habitat include modification of water bodies, water pollution, uncontrolled use of pesticides and destruction of wetlands for logging and agriculture. “U Minh Ha National Park is located in Tran Van Thoi district, Ca Mau province, and covers an area of over 8000 hectares. U Minh Ha’s peat swampland ecosystem plays a crucial role in providing habitats for a variety of endangered, vulnerable and threatened species of birds, mammals, and fish, including the Hairy-nosed Otter, the Asian Small-clawed Otter, Small Indian Civet, Common Palm Civet, Leopard Cat, Sunda Pangolin, Long-tailed Macaque, and Sambar Deer,” said U Minh Ha National Park Director Mr. Nguyen Van The. It is great news that Hairy-nosed Otters have been found in U Minh Ha National Park and we are keen to work with the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Program to continue this critical research,” said Nguyen Van The. “Finding Hairy-nosed Otters in the area will help build a strong case for conservation recommendations for the U Minh Ha National Park. We will work closely with the National Park to develop the best protection for endangered species like the Hairy-nosed Otter,” added Nguyen Van Nhuan. The Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Program team plans to continue their work in the U Minh Peat swamp forests, particularly the area of Melaleuca and peat swampland located between U Minh Ha and U Minh Thuong National Parks that may act as a corridor for wildlife to move between the two protected areas. The Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Program Mekong Delta research has been made possible thanks to support from the BP Conservation Leadership Programme and Houston and Minnesota Zoos in the United States. Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Programme, 18 September 2008 A photo taken at the time of this exciting encounter can be seen in Rarest of the Rare. Eds. The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina

Vietnam’s appetite for wildlife devastates wild populations Vietnam's appetite for illegal wildlife meat and demand for traditional medicine is devastating animal and plant species within and beyond its borders, experts warn in two new reports. Vietnam has been one of Southeast Asia's most biodiverse countries, but some may be lost before they are known to science due to an illegal global trade believed to be trailing only drugs and gunrunning. Two new reports spell out that, despite Vietnam's international commitments to combat the trade, the smuggling of tigers, monkeys, snakes, pangolins and other animals to and through Vietnam is booming. "Vietnam's illegal trade in wildlife continues unabated and affects neighbouring countries," wrote Nguyen Van Song of the Hanoi Agricultural University in the Journal of Environment and Development. "Wildlife in Vietnam has become very scarce." The study estimated that up to 4,000 tonnes of live animals or meat, skins, ground bones and other illegal products are trafficked into and out of Vietnam per year, generating more than 67 million dollars in revenues. Species are mostly sourced from Vietnam's national parks and neighbouring Laos and Cambodia, to be consumed in Vietnam, China, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan, according to the study based on hundreds of interviews. The largest volume of illegal wildlife goods is smuggled across the Vietnam-China border, with an estimated 2,500 to 3,500 kilogrammes (5,500 to 7,700 pounds) flowing daily through the two major border gates, it said. There have been high-profile crackdowns. In a case last week, Vietnamese police seized more than two tonnes of live snakes and 770 kilogrammes of tortoises from Laos en route to China. But the report estimated that the total value of confiscated wildlife accounts for only three percent of the illegal trade, and that authorities are at a disadvantage when a forest ranger polices an average of 1,400 hectares (3,500 acres) of forest at a monthly wage of about 50 dollars. Smugglers connected to "influential people" -- shorthand for gangsters -- bribe or threaten officials and hide their contraband in trucks, ambulances, wedding and funeral cars and prison vans, the report said. The capital Hanoi is Vietnam's largest market for illegal wildlife meat, with revenues of over 12,000 dollars a day, the report said. "Hanoi is the cultural and political centre of Vietnam where wildlife protection and conservation policies are issued and implemented," said the report. "This suggests that the gap between policies and implementation of wildlife protection is still big." The most popular species served in Hanoi were snakes, palm civets, monitor lizards, porcupines, leopards, pangolins, monkeys, forest pigs, hardshell turtles, soft-shell turtles, civets, boas and birds. The other market fuelling the trade is traditional Vietnamese and Chinese medicine, said a report by the wildlife monitoring network TRAFFIC. Surveys found that "many high-profile animals of global conservation concern (such as tigers, bears or rhinos) can still be bought on the market, provided prior notice is given and that the price negotiated is high enough." Informants had told TRAFFIC that live tiger cubs, tiger skeletons, raw materials and processed medicinal products were brought from Cambodia, Laos and as far as Malaysia to supply the Vietnamese market. Traders in Ninh Hiep commune near Hanoi had offered to supply investigators with "any type of medicinal animal if ordered sufficiently in advance" -- including a frozen tiger, rhino horn and wild bear gall bladder. The shop-owners who offered the illicit goods, the TRAFFIC report found, were "well organised, each claiming that they were shielded from investigations through protection by enforcement personnel." AFP, 8 August 2008

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Vietnamese turtle catchers arrested in the Philippines Foreign poaching of Philippines marine life has flared up as an issue again following the discovery of more than 100 dead Hawksbill turtles aboard a Vietnamese fishing vessel apprehended near Malampaya. The fishing boat’s 13-man crew flooded their vessel as a Filipino gunboat approached them near the country’s main gas field, around 80km off the coast of Palawan Island in the South China Sea. A total of 101 Hawksbill turtles were found drowned in the vessel’s cargo hold. Resting sea turtles, which grow up to a metre in length and can weigh as much as 80kg, can remain submerged for up to two hours but stressed individuals must resurface every few minutes. “Again and again, foreign nationals have encroached upon Philippine waters to plunder our nation’s dwindling marine resources,” said WWF Project Manager RJ de la Calzada. “It disheartens us to find the animals we work so hard to conserve slaughtered on a wholesale basis.” Distinguished from other sea turtles by a hooked beak and heavily-serrated carapace, the Hawksbill has for millennia been hunted for food and tortoiseshell, a material used as far back as the ancient Greek and Roman times to fashion jewellery, combs and brushes. The Hawksbill turtle is protected under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which prohibits all international trade. It is also now classified by the IUCN as Critically Endangered, the highest risk rating for a living animal. Under Philippine and international law it is illegal to capture and kill sea turtles and to trade in turtle by-products. The 13 Vietnamese poachers are just the latest in a long line to have intruded upon Philippine waters, violating both local and international laws. Last year over 200 Green turtles were retrieved in the Sulu Sea and two years ago 359 CITES-protected Napoleon or Humphead Wrasse were seized. “The list goes on and not one case has ever led to a serious conviction,” said De La Calzada. “The Vietnamese poachers were not the first and they will certainly not be the last.” Amid fears that justice might again prove elusive, WWF is acting as a watchdog to ensure that charges are pressed in this case. The 13 Vietnamese crewmen will be charged with violating the Philippine Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act, penalties for which can include a fine of up to one million Philipppine pesos (US$21,500) coupled with a sixyear jail term. “WWF condemns such blatant poaching of internationally-protected marine life and hopes that the Philippine government will finally have the resolve to dispense due justice against foreign poachers who disregard both local and international laws,” said WWF-Philippines president Dave Valdes. WWF, 4 September 2008

White-eared Night Heron tragically dies Against the advice of BirdLife in Indochina the White-eared Night Heron Gorsachius magnificus pictured in the previous issue of The Babbler was confiscated by FPD. Predictably, the bird died soon after. This incident only seeks to exemplify the fact that forest protection staff are ill-prepared to deal with the animals they confiscate from the wildlife trade. Le Trong Trai pers. comm.

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Vietnam and Cambodia top the league for threatened primates The first comprehensive review in five years of the world’s 634 kinds of primates found that almost 50 percent are in danger of going extinct, according to the criteria of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. Issued at the 22nd International Primatological Society Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland, the report by the world’s foremost primate authorities presented a chilling indictment on the state of primates everywhere. In Asia, more than 70 percent of primates are classified on the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered – meaning they could disappear forever in the near future. Habitat destruction, through the burning and clearing of tropical forests, which also emits at least 20 percent of the global greenhouse gases, is a major threat to primates. Other threats include the hunting of primates for food and an illegal wildlife trade. “We’ve raised concerns for years about primates being in peril, but now we have solid data to show the situation is far more severe than we imagined,” said Russell A. Mittermeier, longtime chairman of the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Primate Specialist Group and the president of Conservation International (CI). “Tropical forest destruction has always been the main cause, but now it appears that hunting is just as serious a threat in some areas, even where the habitat is still quite intact. In many places, primates are quite literally being eaten to extinction.” The review funded by CI, the Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the IUCN is part of an unprecedented examination of the state of the world’s mammals to be released at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona in October. With the input of hundreds of experts worldwide, the primate review provides scientific data to show the severe threats facing animals that share virtually all DNA with humans. In both Vietnam and Cambodia, approximately 90 percent of primate species are considered at risk of extinction. Populations of gibbons, leaf monkeys, langurs and other species have dwindled due to rampant habitat loss exacerbated by hunting for food and to supply the wildlife trade in traditional Chinese medicine and pets. “What is happening in Southeast Asia is terrifying,” said Jean- Christophe Vié, Deputy Head of the IUCN Species Programme. “To have a group of animals under such a high level of threat is, quite frankly, unlike anything we have recorded among any other group of species to date.” Delacour’s Langur Trachypithecus delacouri. This Critically Endangered primate is endemic to a tiny Elsewhere, species from tiny mouse lemurs to area of Vietnam where it is restricted to a small nummassive mountain gorillas face challenges to ber of isolated sub-populations which are subject to survive. In Africa, 11 of the 13 kinds of red continued hunting. Over five years ago there were colobus monkeys assessed were listed as Criti- thought be c.300 individuals remaining. The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina ically Endangered or Endangered. Two may already be extinct: Bouvier’s red colobus (Procolobus pennantii bouvieri) has not been seen in 25 years, and no living Miss Waldron’s red colobus (Procolobus badius waldroni) has been seen by a primatologist since 1978, despite occasional reports that some still survive. “Among the African species, the great apes such as gorillas and bonobos have always tended to grab the limelight, and even though they are deeply threatened, it is smaller primates such as the red colobus that could die out first," said IPS President Richard Wrangham. As our closest relatives, non-human primates are important to the health of their surrounding ecosystems. Through the dispersal of seeds and other interactions with their environments, primates help support a wide range of plant and animal life in the world’s tropical forests. Healthy forests provide vital resources for local human populations, and also absorb and store carbon dioxide that causes climate change. Meanwhile, scientists continue to learn more about primates and their role in the world. Since 2000, 53 species of primates previously unknown to science have been described – 40 from Madagascar, two from Africa, three from Asia and eight from Central and South America. In 2007, researchers found a long-rumored population of Critically Endangered greater bamboo lemurs (Prolemur simus) in Madagascar in a wetland 400 kilometers (240 miles) from the only other known home of the species. In total, the species numbers about 140 individuals in the wild. Despite the gloomy assessment, conservationists point to a notable success in helping targeted species recover. In Brazil, the black lion tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysopygus) was downlisted to Endangered from Critically Endangered, as was the golden lion tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia) in 2003, as a result of three decades of conservation efforts involving numerous institutions. Populations of both animals are now well-protected but remain very small, causing an IUCN - Extinction threat growing for mankind’s closest relatives urgent need for reforestation to provide new habitat for their long-term survival. “If you have forests, you can save primates,” said Anthony Rylands, the deputy chair of the IUCN Primate Specialist Group. “The work with lion tamarins shows that conserving forest fragments and reforesting to create corridors that connect them is not only vital for primates, but offers the multiple benefits of maintaining healthy ecosystems and water supplies, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.” Researchers also considered reclassifying the mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) to Endangered from Critically Endangered due to increasing populations in their only habitat – the protected mountain jungles of Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. However, the slayings of eight mountain gorillas in 2007 and continuing political turmoil in the region delayed the planned reclassification. The IUCN Red List sets a series of criteria for a species to be categorized as threatened. In cases lacking the necessary information, the species can be listed as Data Deficient, which applied to nearly 15 percent of the primates in the new review. Many of those species, particularly newly discovered ones, are expected to eventually be classified as threatened. PSG Chaiman: Dr. Russell Mittermeier, 3 August 2008

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WCS staff discover huge primate populations in Cambodia In Cambodia, the trees are alive with the sounds of monkeys, according to a recent survey by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). The report reveals surprisingly large populations of two globally endangered primates in one of this Southeast Asian country’s protected areas. Scientists from WCS together with the Royal Government of Cambodia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries searched an area of 300 square miles within the Seima Biodiversity Conservation Area. They counted 42,000 black-shanked douc langurs and 2,500 yellow-cheeked crested gibbons. The estimate represents the world’s largest known populations for both species. The researchers believe total populations within the 1,150 square-mile landscape surrounding Seima may be even bigger. The WCS scientists who worked on the census include Tom Clements, Nut Meng Hor, Men Soriyun, Edward Pollard, Hannah O’Kelly, and Samantha Strindberg. Prior to this discovery, the largest known populations of the two primate species were believed to live in adjacent Vietnam, where black-shanked douc langurs and yellow-cheeked crested gibbons number at 600 and 200 respectively. Their total population figures remain unknown. The Cambodian census took place in a former logging area where the two primates were once extensively hunted. In 2002, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries declared the region a conservation area and began working with WCS on site management and planning for conservation and local development. In the years since the joint program began, the primates began to recover. Their populations have remained stable since 2005. The primates have also benefited from a cessation of logging activities, a nation-wide gun confiscation program implemented in the 1990s, and a habitat where there is plenty to eat. But WCS researchers in Cambodia remain concerned that looming threats could jeopardize recent successes. “Despite this good news in Cambodia, the area still remains at risk from conversion to agro industrial plantations for crops, including biofuels, and commercial mining,” said Tom Clements, the lead author of the report. “WCS is therefore committed to continuing to work with the Cambodian government to ensure that these globally important primate populations will remain secure.” WCS has worked with the Royal Government of Cambodia since 1999, helping to establish the Seima Biodiversity Conservation Area and developing landscape-level conservation programs in the Northern Plains and Tonle Sap Great Lake. WCS work in Cambodia has been supported by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Great Apes Conservation Fund, MacArthur Foundation, Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation, ADB Greater Mekong Subregion Core Environment Program, and the Danish Government’s Danida program. WCS, September 2008 Yellow-cheeked Crested Gibbon Nomascus gabriellae. Newly discovered populations of this species dwarf those known from Vietnam. The Babbler September 2008


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Bad news for primate habitat in Cambodia The Mong Reththy Co said it will invest in more than 100,000 hectares of jatropha plantations next year after the success of a pilot project in Stung Treng province. "Our project, conducted on six hectares of land, shows that this is a good crop for Cambodia," company chief Mong Reththy told the Post Monday. He said the pilot crop produced eight tonnes of oil per hectare, adding that the oil sells for as much as US$720 per tonne overseas. Jatropha, a thorny, toxic hedge, produces nuts from which oil can be extracted to produce bio-fuel and other products. "We hope this crop will become a major source of bio-fuel, animal feed and fertiliser in Cambodia," Mong Reththy said, adding that exports could bring millions of dollars in profits. The Mong Reththy Co signed a joint venture agreement with London-based D1 Oils Plc in 2007 to plant jatropha on 100,000 hectares of land in Stung Treng. The agreement was conditional on the success of the pilot program. The company is to receive US$400 million in development funds to include a bio-fuel factory in the province. Mong Reththy said he has also partnered with a South Korean firm to assist in planting the crops. He estimated that tens of thousands of workers will be needed. Long Phall, deputy governor of Stung Treng province, welcomed the possibility of new crops and a bio-fuel factory. "We will have employment for more farmers and a factory for them to sell their crops," he said. Cambodia's government has been championing biofuels - specifically jatropha - for more than eight years now. Officials cite potential benefits ranging from insulating Cambodia from the vagaries of the international oil market to providing rural populations with cheap, environmentally friendly electricity and a new cash crop to bolster the agricultural sector. "Renewable energy has the full support of the government and the prime minister," Sat Samy, minister in charge of alternative energy, told the Post in an earlier interview. "This is for our future: protect the environment and give electricity to the next generation of Cambodians." The Phnom Penh Post, 23 September 2008

'Unnecessary' dam project threatens rarest wildlife One of the world's rarest reptiles, the critically-endangered Siamese crocodile, is gravely threatened by a proposed dam in an unspoilt region of Cambodia, British conservationists warn. Construction of the Chay Areng dam in the Cardamom mountains will wipe out a fifth or more of the remaining population of the crocodiles, which stands at fewer than 200 individuals in the wild, according to Fauna and Flora International (FFI), which is based in Cambridge. It will displace hundreds of indigenous people from their homes, and do enormous damage to the wildlife in a valley which alone holds more than 30 globally threatened species of mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and amphibians, ranging from tigers, Asian elephants and pileated gibbons to the white-winged duck, the yellowheaded temple turtle and one of the world's rarest and most prized freshwater fish, the Asian arowana. Furthermore, says FFI, an economic assessment showed that the 120ft dam, which is being promoted by a Chinese power company, is not necessary for Cambodia's future electricity demand and is in effect surplus to requirements. FFI is calling on the Cambodian government to cancel the scheme. Were it to go ahead, the Siamese crocodiles would be the most notable casualties of the project in wildlife terms. The stocky, 10ft-long reptile, which feeds largely on fish and snakes, is extinct over 99 per cent of its original range, with tiny remaining groups in Laos, Thailand and Vietnam apart from Cambodia, where the Areng river habitat is the most secure and The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina significant breeding site in the world, harbouring between 40 and 50 individuals. If the Areng river is dammed, says FFI, this fragile population will be seriously reduced or wiped out. The inundation will destroy vital lakeside nesting areas, shallow feeding zones, sandy basking areas along the river, and essential lakeside burrows used for shelter. The organisation also fears that the 1,000-plus Chinese workers who will be brought in to build the dam will begin poaching the other wildlife in the valley, saying that this has happened in similar schemes elsewhere. The whole range of the Cardamom mountains in western Cambodia has hitherto been one of the best unspoilt areas of montane rainforest in South-east Asia, having been protected from exploitation for decades by the region's wars. FFI says it is "the untouched jewel in the crown of Asian biodiversity". But now it is being opened up, especially by the Chinese, who are offering to build hydropower and other generating infrastructure for the Cambodians in exchange for a future share in the country's untapped natural resources, which include oil and gas. Many of the rivers of the Cardamom range have dams proposed for them, and one, at O'Som, is already going ahead. FFI says its recognises that Cambodia needs more electricity and some of it will come from hydropower. But it says that a 2007 report, the Master Plan Study of Hydropower Development in Cambodia, commissioned by the Japan International Co-operation Agency and the Cambodian Ministry of Mines and Energy, identified 10 priority sites that would be sufficient to meet the projected national demand – and significantly, these did not include the Chay Areng. "The Areng dam is unnecessary and surplus to requirements," said Jenny Daltry, a senior conservation biologist with FFI. "Hundreds of households of an indigenous people, the Khmer Daeum, will be displaced and have to move. These are people who have been there for hundreds of years and who really do live in harmony with nature and have set up their own protected areas in the forest, and six villages of them will go, and possibly seven. "In wildlife terms, it will be a disaster. The crocodiles, which represent at least a fifth of the world's population in the wild, will disappear and there will be catastrophic damage to other wildlife. "It is still up to the Cambodian government to approve or reject the proposal from the Chinese company and we strongly feel it should be rejected." The Independent, 29 September 2008

DB Lends Vietnam $196 Million To Build Hydropower Plant The Asian Development Bank signed an agreement Monday with the government of Vietnam for a $196 million loan to build a hydroelectric plant. According to the agreement, signed between ADB Country Director for Vietnam Ayumi Konishi and State Bank Governor Nguyen Van Giau, the loan will be used for building the Song Bung 4 Hydropower Plant in Quang Nam province, located 820 kilometers south of Hanoi. The plant, to be built in the Vu Gia-Thu Bon River Basin, will have a designed capacity of 156 megawatts. "Rapid economic growth and socioeconomic development require a reliable supply of electricity in both an economically and environmentally sustainable manner," said Konishi at the signing ceremony. This is the first major hydropower project in the country to receive financing from a multilateral institution. Aside from the ADB, Vietnam Development Bank is lending $22.3 million and stateowned Vietnam Electricity Group is contributing $49 million to the project. Vu Trong Khanh, Dow Jones Newswires 6 October 2008 This development raises questions about what measures ADB is proposing to prevent negative impacts of this project. Unless extensive mitigation and compensatory measures are being taken, this hardly seems to fit with the spirit of the Biodiversity Corridors Initiative. Eds. The Babbler September 2008


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Important Bird Areas News News from Boeung Prek Lapouv IBA, Cambodia Five LCG (Local Conservation Group) members are now working at Boeung Prek Lapouv management and conservation area for Sarus Crane and other birds on education and awareness raising activities, bird surveys, patrols and law enforcement. In August 2008 the patrol team conducted awareness activities with eight Keo Kampleung villagers, Prey Khla commune. On 20 August 2008 Mr. San Suong, Kampong Krosaing commune chief and Mr. Seng Vanna, chief of LCG met 31 Sangkum Meanchey villagers in a meeting to promote the awareness on wildlife and biodiversity management and conservation in Kampong Krosaing commune. During the meeting 38 posters were distributed to those villagers. LCG members conducted regular patrols in the whole Boeung Prek Lapouv management and conservation area for Sarus Crane and other birds including 8 times in August 2008. No illegal activity was recorded during the patrols. 15 bird species including one globally threatened species, Lesser Adjutant (4) and three near threatened species, Black-headed Ibis (23), Painted Stork (104), Spot-billed Pelican (15) were recorded by LCG members. Numbers refer to the highest bird counts of the month. On 27 August 2008 I conducted a bird survey in the morning and recorded 4 Spot billed Pelicans, 7 Oriental Darters and other least concern species. Unfortunately, during my bird survey at Boeung Prek Lapouv IBA, Mr. Seng Vanna, chief of LCG, was twice bitted by a venomous blue snake approximatly 40 cm long on two of his toes at around 6 am. This snake was on the edge of motorboat, hidden close to the engine. After he was bitten by this snake I took a plastic bag to tie around his ankle and rushed to bring him to Vietnam for medical treatment. He has now got better but there is a small spot of bruise on his thigh. This is a summary of a report prepared by Seng Vanna and Seng Kim Hout

News from Kampong Trach IBA, Cambodia Seven LCG members are now working at Kampong Trach IBA on education and awareness raising activities, bird surveys patrols and law enforcement. Eight patrols were conducted in August 2008 to the main feeding sites of Sarus Cranes. One case of bird trapping activity committed by two Koh Chamkar villagers was found during the patrols. These trappers were escaped when the team arrived at the scene and three traps were confiscated. Bird counts were also conducted by LCG members in August 2008. 13 bird species were observed this month including one Near Threatened species, Black-headed Ibis (of which 49 were observed on the 4th). On 08 August a meeting on the current land conflict at Kampong Trach IBA was held at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction and chaired by H.E. Chhan Saphan, Secretary of State. Nine participants from the relevant institutions consisting of Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction; Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF); Ministry of Environment (MoE); Forestry Administration; and Kampong Forestry Administration Cantonment. The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina H.E. Chhan Saphan started the meeting by informing all the participants of the Kampot provincial governor’s letter to the Prime Minister on the current land conflict at Kampong Trach IBA. The governor said in that letter that wildlife management and conservation activities at the site are illegal. The Prime Minister has asked the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction to discuss this land conflict issue with MAFF and MoE and then provide ideas and comments. H. E. Huot Bunnary, MAFF Deputy Director General, described wildlife conservation activities at Kampong Trach IBA. He explained how there was strong support from the provincial level, particularly the governor of Kampot to establish the site as a conservation area for Sarus Crane and other birds by MAFF ministerial decree, FA had drafted this decree to MAFF and after a meeting in MAFF it was agreed that this decree will be put to the Prime Minister. Although we have a support letter from the Kampot governor, the governor issued another letter on 01 April 2008 to cut out 54.5 ha of land within Kampong Trach IBA which had been claimed by eleven families living in Boeung Sala Khang Tboung Commune. Through investigations conducted by the Forestry Administration it was determined that this land did not belong to those eleven families but to Prek Kreus villagers who abandoned this site in 2000 and has since been used for Sarus Crane conservation. Through many questions and explanation from the representatives of the Forestry Administration, the chairman of the meeting asked for a working group to be set up comprising the relevant ministries mentioned above plus the Ministry of Interior. These persons will visit the site to further research the land conflict issues and then a report will be made to Prime Minister. This is a summary of a report prepared by Oung Seth and Seng Kim Hout Editor’s note: the land claim has delayed the proposal for a sub-decree to get the site gazetted as a protected area. However, it seems that the villagers ( who when pressed they couldn't physically identify their plots!) were a front put up by a local land speculator. His motivation is presumably that the Cambodian and Vietnamese governments plan to open a frontier crossing nearby, which will drive up land prices. Importantly there is a new provincial governor for Kampot province who is on friendly terms with Men Phymean (Director of Wildlife Protection Office), and so we feel cautiously confidant about the outcome.

News from Western Siem Pang IBA, Cambodia The draft boundary of the proposed protected area has been changed from along Sekong River to adjacent to the western boundary of Virachay National Park. The total area is therefore increased from 123,717 ha to 164,299 ha. This new boundary is much better because it includes the Sekong River (itself an IBA) and now adjoins Virachey NP, thereby linking Virachey with Xe Pian in Laos. The extended boundary is strongly supported by the district authorities and the provincial working group. An official endorsement letter from the Stung Treng Governor is required to support the proposal to designate Siem Pang as a protected area, and this should have been approved and signed in the second week of September. This will then be submitted to MAFF and after a consultation process we hope it will be approved by the Prime Minister. This is a summary of a report by Kry Masphal Although good progress is being made at Siem Pang, potential future development lurks just outside the IBA, see overleaf. Eds. The Babbler September 2008


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Development project threatens the integrity of Western Siem Pang IBA, Cambodia The Cambodian government has given the go-ahead for a Chinese company to conduct feasibility study into building two hydropower dams on the Sre Pok River, English-Khmer language newspaper the Cambodia Daily said Thursday "It is just feasibility study to see whether or not they can do it," Minister of Industry, Mines and Energy Suy Sem was quoted as saying. A memorandum of understanding was signed with the company in June to study the possibility of building the two dams, but the specific locations can't be told, said the minister. "It is a big benefit to have cheap electricity because gasoline is so expensive," he added. The agreement with Guangxi Guiguan Electric Power Co. Ltd. commits it to reviewing and analyzing the effects of the projects on the social, environmental and ecological conditions of the area. The Sre Pok River runs through northeastern provinces of Ratanakkiri and Stung Treng. KI Media, 14 August 2008 Although outside of Western Siem Pang IBA, this would have serious implications for the hydrology and biological integrity of the site. Eds.

Rarest of the rare Hairy-nosed Otter Lutra sumatrana The Indochina region has four otter species, and although all are declining this is the rarest. This medium-sized otter is considered Data Deficient. It is around 1.3m in length and weighs around 7kg. The paws are fully webbed with well-developed claws. The fur is dark brown above, slightly paler underneath with a contrasting pale chin and upper lip. The whole nasal area (rhinarium) is covered in short, dark fur. This otter inhabits peat swamp forests and shallow, coastal oceanic waters. It was believed to be extinct in 1998, but four tiny populations have been found since then. The Hairy-nosed Otter is known from the very small number of recent sightings and roadkill to definitely occur in southern Sumatra, southern Thailand, south west Cambodia and south Vietnam. It is possible that there are populations in Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia and elsewhere in Indonesia. This species has probably undergone a substantial decline owing to hunting for fur and meat, and it is likely that it is also threatened by destruction and fragmentation of peat swamp forests for logging and agriculture. The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina

Project updates The “Biodiversity Conservation Corridors Initiative” in a nutshell Sustainably implemented long-term biodiversity monitoring projects are rare. Typically, most monitoring projects are terminated after one or two years of monitoring due to lack of further funding. Further drawbacks for monitoring projects are the limited number of indicators and too few selected sites – most times just at one site monitoring schemes have been implemented. Regional or international monitoring schemes extending local sites are hardly implemented, specifically not in Asia and the Pacific. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) implemented economic corridors in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) with large infrastructure projects since 1992 – the economic corridors are supposedly connecting all major metropolitan areas in the GMS with streets but also with trains and other infrastructure, for example Hanoi with Kunming or Saigon with Phnom Penh and Bangkok. After some discussion, and over a decade of delays, the Biodiversity Conservation Corridors Initiative (BCI), part of ADB’s Environmental Operations Center (EOC), identified Biodiversity Conservation Corridors accompanying the economic corridors in the GMS countries, however, on a smaller and rather local scale (see map). BCI aims to mitigate the effects of the economic corridors on nature. Some internationally acting conservation organizations such as WWF, WCS, CI, and BirdLife realized the problem of unsustainable monitoring frameworks years ago. The ADB, however, jumped in once they realized the chance of such a project to be complementary with their economic corridors. Hence, ADB started to plan (2005) and implement (2007) an integrative project over a larger scale (GMS), longer term (15 years are planned, however funding is secured for the initial 3 years), multi indicator-based (22 nature-related indicators are regularly monitored, along with further socio-economic indicators) and involving over 15 stakeholders and NGOs, including but not limited to World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Conservation International (CI), Fauna and Flora International (FFI), Wildlife Alliance, and BirdLife, as well as government organizations such as Department of National Parks (DNP) in Thailand, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) in Viet Nam with its local dependency Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DoNRE) in the provinces, Water Resource and Environmental Administration (WREA) in Laos, Forest Protection Bureau (FPB) and Yunnan Environmental Protection Bureau (YEPB) in Yunnan and Guangxi (China), and Ministry of Environment (MoE) in Cambodia. In total, some 15 BCI partners, the Netherlands and Sweden as donor governments, the six GMS governments or provincial administration and ADB are involved in the BCI framework. BirdLife and Mae Fulang University have a quite specific role, since they are working on a meta-level and collate data (BirdLife on ecological indicators, Mae Fulang University on socio-economic indicators) to monitor trends above several years and the GMS. At the BCI pilot sites and –optimally– also within the larger landscape or even sub-regional scale, five indicator groups (driver indicators, pressure indicators, biodiversity and ecosystem services indicators, human well-being indicators, and response indicators) are collected for monitoring. The socio-economic monitoring focuses mainly on demographic profiles, property assets, livelihood patterns, wealth and income, and infrastructure development. Indicators for bio-monitoring are reflected by for instance presence of alien invasive species, key biodiversity species, land use change, habitat loss and habitat cover, The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina conservation planning and ecosystem management. The indicator set aims to cover as much biodiversity, human impact on biodiversity and human well being through biodiversity as possible. This project will run until the end of 2015; although it is a pilot and has considerable potential for continuation into the future. The BirdLife part within the BCI is to collate data on the meta-level for the biodiversity indicators in the six BCI Pilot Sites. BirdLife International successfully developed a framework for site-level monitoring of biodiversity and threats in GMS Economic Corridors by engaging its national partners (e.g., Bird Conservation Society Thailand – BCST, Hong Kong Bird Watching Society – HKBWS) at local levels, including national NGOs, grassroots conservation groups, individual researchers and local bird watching groups. Results from such monitoring have immense potential to help decision-makers make informed decisions that minimize the effects of economic development on biodiversity. In total there are 6 BCI Pilot Sites in five countries of the GMS. Cardamom and Elephant Mountains Map 1. Economic corridors in the GMS with BCI Pilot Sites for biodiversity corridors. Source: EOC-BCI, ADB RETA (Cambodia) Located in the southwest of Cambodia 6289. near and on the cost, the Cardamom and Elephant Mountains BCI Pilot Site is one of the last few areas in SE Asia with some large area of pristine forest left and comparatively low human impact on nature. 45 bird species have been recorded, some of which are increasing in numbers, such as Silver Pheasant Lophura nycthemera, and Great Hornbill Buceros bicorni (Peov Somanak in litt. to Vanna 2008). In addition to bird, 22 mammals, and eight reptiles. Fortunately, populations of Siamese Crocodile Crocodylus siamensi, Giant Asian Pond Turtle Heosemys grandis, Gaur Bos frontalis, and Asian Elephant Elephas maximus reportedly are increasing, while Pileated Gibbon Hylobates pileatus and Northern Pig-tailed Macaque Macaca leonine populations are decreasing. Eastern Plains Dry Forests – Mondulkiri (Cambodia) The Eastern Plains Dry forests – mainly located in the Mondulkiri Province in eastern Cambodia – are one of the most productive BCI Pilot Sites within the framework due to very good working relationships and presence of several international and national organizations. Within and around the BCI Pilot Site, at least 56 bird species have been confirmed, five of which are critically endangered, namely Giant Ibis Thaumatibis gigantean, Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus, Slender-billed Vulture Gyps tenuirostris, The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis and White-shouldered Ibis Pseudibis davisoni. Three other species, the Greater Adjutant Leptoptilos dubius, Orange-necked Partridge Arborophila davidi and Whitewinged Duck Cairina scutulata, are considered as endangered species. Germain's Peacock-pheasant Polyplectron germaini and Chestnut-headed Partridge Arborophila cambodiana populations have been increasing (Pet Phaktra in litt. to Vanna 2008). Twenty two mammals and eight reptiles have been recorded, with Banteg Bos javanicus and Eld’s deer Cervus eldi populations at a still level; the population of Asian Elephant Elephas maximus is at approximates 65 individuals. Additionally, Yellow-cheeked Crested Gibbon Nomascus gabriellae population remain at a high level. Major threat to the Mondulkiri BCI Pilot Site is a hydropower project that will flood large parts of the BCI Pilot Site and the province – in an area with hardly any potential to generate much power, since quite flat. Dong Hua Sao – Xepian BCI Pilot Site in the Tri-border Forests (Laos) The Laos BCI Pilot Site is located in the very south of the country, and borders to Cambodia and Vietnam. Overall biodiversity in the BCI Pilot Site in southern Lao PDR is low compared to other sites – since surveys in general have been few in the area, many more species are probable to be recorded. About 100 bird species have been recorded in the larger area beyond the immediate sites, as well as at least 20 mammals so far. Several of the key species (e.g., elephants, tigers) are assumed or confirmed in the BCI Pilot Site. Ngoc Linh – Xe Xap in the Central Annamites (Vietnam) The BCI Pilot Site is located in the central parts of Viet Nam close to Hue in Quang Tri and Qung Nam Provinces. In Quang Tri, 42 mammals (2 endangered, 8 vulnerable, 3 near threatened), 260 bird species (1 endangered, 1 vulnerable, 10 near threatened), 27 amphibians (at least 1 vulnerable), and 61 reptiles (1 critically endangered, 5 endangered, 1 vulnerable) have been recorded so far (BirdLife; Quang Tri FPD 2008). A total of 272 birds species are confirmed from Quang Nam Province, at least two of which are globally threatened. Two species described since 1999 are found in Quang Nam, indicating high degree of diversity and small degree of surveys. 48 taxa of reptiles, including six vulnerable species of turtle and 35 amphibians have been confirmed so far, accompanied by 194 butterflies and 1,129 plant species (BirdLife; Quang Nam People Committee 2005). Major threat to the region is agricultural expansion and logging. Western Forest Complex – Kaeng Krachan (Thailand) Over 400 species of birds and 57 mammals have been recorded within the Kaeng Krachan NP boundaries. Larger mammals include elephant, gaur, sambar deer, banteng, serow, and Fea’s muntjac. Malayan tapir, white-handed gibbon, dusky and banded langurs, Asian wild dog, otter, and wild boar. Among the birds recorded in the NP are several hornbill species, Red Jungle Fowl, Kalij Pheasant and Grey Peacock-Pheasant, and Woolly-Necked Stork among many forest species and songbirds. Largest threat is further habitat loss and fragmentation of the remaining forest patches. Reforestation projects and secondary re-growth areas are only a small contribution to mitigate Restaurant serving wildlife in the Tenasserim BCI habitat loss and fragmentation. Pilot Site (Photo by Apirat Iamsiri) The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina Xishuangbanna Biodiversity Corridor in the Mekong headwaters landscape in Yunnan (China). The goal of the project part is to restore and maintain the ecological integrity of the Xishuangbanna national nature reserve complex. Local authorities intend to reach this goal through improved management of corridors and core zones for biodiversity conservation and watershed protection, as well as development of sustainable used areas that are part of proposed biodiversity protection corridors. The corridors supposedly connect existing nature reserves or protected areas to facilitate exchange of species between the protected areas. The suggested corridor (Mengla-Shangyong Corridor) covers an area of 2,471 ha. The border of the corridor is 40.6 km long, of which 11.9 km in the north connect to the Mengla Nature Reserve and 3.1 km in the south to Shangyong Nature Reserve. The remaining 12.4 km in the west and 13.2 km in the east are not connected to reserves. The suggested corridor (Mangao-Nabanhe Corridor) area is 15,446 ha. The border of the corridor is 75.4 km long, of which 9.2 km in the east connect to Nabanhe Nature Reserve, 12.2 km in the west to Mangao Nature Reserve. The remaining 29.9 km in the north and 24.154 kilometres in the south are not connected to reserves. Table 1. There are some interesting species present in the Yunnan BCI Pilot Site, making the Site a specifically important area for conservation Species MAMMALS Gaur Irrawaddy Squirrel Southern Serow Asiatic Elephant Particolored Flying Squirrel East Asian Porcupine European Otter Smooth-coated Otter Stump-tailed Macaque Assamese Macaque Northern Pigtail Macaque Black-striped Weasel Clouded Leopard Tiger Asiatic Black Bear BIRDS Rufous-necked Hornbill Green Peafowl Hume's Pheasant PLANTS


Scientific name

Priority level

Bos frontalis Callosciurus pygerythrus Capricornis sumatraensis Elephas maximus Hylopetes alboniger Hystrix brachyura Lutra lutra Lutrogale perspicillata Macaca arctoides Macaca assamensis Macaca leonina Mustela strigidorsa Neofelis nebulosa Panthera tigris Ursus thibetanus


Aceros nipalensis Pavo muticus Syrmaticus humiae


Aquilaria sinensis Dipterocarpus turbinatus Laportea urentissima Myristica yunnanensis Nyssa yunnanensis Parashorea chinensis Premna szemaoensis Pterospermum menglunense Vatica xishuangbannaensis


Major threats in Xishuangbanna NNR include agricultural expansion, energy production (through hydroelectric power dam projects) and mining, human intrusions and disturbance, invasive alien species, over-exploitation of natural resources, extensive residential and commercial development, as well as new means of transportation and street development. The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina

Important Bird Areas and Local Conservation Group Workshop in Mumbai BirdLife International in Indochina – Cambodia Program has been working with Site Support Groups (SSGs) or Local conservation Group (LCGs) since 2003. Sustainability Strategy for this group is still a main issue for solving. This issue is not facing only in Cambodia but other partners of BirdLife who are working in other developing countries also raising the same issue. To gather the experience from the whole region on LCG, the workshop about Legal/Policy and Equity/Livelihood issue have been organize by BirdLife Asia Division in collaborate with Bombay Nature Heritage Society (BirdLife’s partner in India) in Mumbai, India from 1- 5 March 2008 with participation of BirdLife Asia partners from 8 countries including Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Nepal, India, Philippine and Malaysia. As representative of BirdLife- Cambodia Program Office, I have been learned a lot from this 5 days workshop specifically good experience and lesson learn from the other partners who are working with LCG particularly on legal/policy and equity/ livelihoods. The most interesting one is the lesson learns and key action for sustainability of local conservation activities with Important Bird Areas. The Nature Kenya mention that “BirdLife goals IBA conservation = SSG mainly livelihood”, the communities outreach activities play important role in encourage villager to participate in conservation activities within and out side IBA. Biodiversity and Participants of the workshop on advocacy and livelihood Nature Conservation Association issues faced by IBAs (Photo: Bou Vorsak) (BANCA, partner in Myanmar) project in Natmathou Wildlife Sanctuary successful in encourage LCG to work as volunteer however they provide agriculture training and seed, school and education material as incentive for their work hard. The same as Cambodia, BirdLife – Vietnam Program provide small compensate directly to LCG. In Thailand, Bird watching club play important role as volunteering LCG. Haribon Foundation integrated community organizing and sustainable livelihood development activities to the project working with LCG within IBA. I also found that LCG establishes, so far, in Cambodia did not follow the guide line applying the SSG approach. After finish civil war, most of Cambodian is living in poor situation, they interest in feeding their families more than conservation. They see wildlife include bird as food rather than leisure thing. Illegal logging and hunting, and land encroachment are the main threat to all IBAs. Moreover the information about landscape, species and habitat are very limited in all the sites. LCG in Cambodia currently work hard as project team to overcome the above threat. In Western Siem Pang they have to work full time more than 15 days per month and in Beung Preak Lapouv, a group of 4 members have to be base in station in the middle of this wetland IBA for more than 20 days per month. In these cases The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina LCG approach which focus on a group who totally working as volunteer is impossible to apply for these entire group in Cambodia context. In opposite to totally volunteer, we provide small allowance to them as compensation to their work hard and facing risky however we consider that LCG contribute their time to project as volunteer, even not fully volunteer, if we compare the labor cost in their local market most of LCG member get in average only 1.35 US$ per day while all their families depend on them. Mr. Seng Vanna, LCG leader in Beung Preak Lapouv, mention that he love bird that why he work for this IBA in average 22 full days per month, BirdLife compensation just motivated tool but not salary. In current Cambodia context we can not fully apply the SSG approach but to improve the way we work with communities to conserve IBA, reform and strengthening the LCG and integrate conservation and livelihood activities is required. New LCG must fully form by volunteer villagers in each village. This group will not get any direct compensation from project however income generation and community outreach activities will be provided to their village member and community as motivation tool. Their role of responsible will be developed by using participatory method after training them about the advantage of conservation and sustainable natural resource use. Institutional strengthening will be also provided. Bou Vorsak, Acting Program Manager of BirdLife International in Indochina- Cambodia Program

Support Local Conservation Group to conserve wetland IBA in Cambodia Wetland covers 30% of Cambodia surface, and is very important habitat of human and wildlife communities and national economies. 75% Cambodian people depend on protein get from fish and fish product. Wetland also support large population of bird specifically waterbirds. To balance between economic development activities and wildlife conservation for a sustainable livelihood and less impact on biodiversity, BirdLife International in Indochina – Cambodia Program in collaborate with Forestry Administration (government focal point) and with support from Keidanren Natural Conservation Fund ( KNCF) and Darwin Initiative are working to support Local Conservation Group to conserve their natural resource in wetland of two globally important sites along Mekong Delta, Beung Preak Lapouv Sarus Crane and Various other Birds conservation area and Kampong Trach Important Bird Area.

LCG school visit in Kampong Trach IBA (Photo Seng Kim Hout) The Babbler September 2008


Local Conservation Groups (LCG) is group of local people and local government who, in partnership with relevant stakeholders, help promote conservation and sustainable development at IBA. The 2 groups of LCGs in Beung Preak Lapouv and Kampong Tach wetland IBA was formulate consist commune leaders ( representative of local people) and local authorities such as forest administration officer, fisheries officer, local polices, and bor-

BirdLife International in Indochina der army in total 12 members ( 5 for Beung Preak Lapouv and 7 for Kampong Trach). The project supported by KNCF and Darwin have been started in year 2007 in main objective to Implementing the Ramsar Convention through Local Conservation Groups at Important Bird Areas in Cambodia. After government of Cambodia designated Beung Preak Lapouv as Sarus Crane and Various other Birds Conservation Areas (SCCA) on 14 September 2007, Project have been supported LCG to develop 11 sign boards to place along main canal and 1000 poster sheets to conduct awareness to their communities about the main objective of this designation specifically inform about the official boundary of Conservation area. Village meeting usually conduct by invite all people who identify as major using of wetland, the main objective of these meetings is to aware people the sustainable use of natural resource of wetland according to Ramsar convention as well as fisheries and forest law. LCG also visit school near by the wetland to teach about the important of bird conservation and the environment of wetland, and handed out study material. Legally designation the site as protected area by government is only suitable way secure land encroachment which currently becomes a hot issue in Cambodia. For Kampong Trach IBA, the process of designation to be Sarus Crane Conservation Area LCG members practicing GPS use and bird recording in is in the final stage. We expected that govBeung Preak Lapouv. (Photo Bunnat) ernment of Cambodia will legally designate this area in up coming quarter. The course about bird identification, wetland and bird monitoring and using GPS and map have been identify as basic need of LCG to do monitoring and law enforcement and provided. The exchange visit to the other site that has the same habitat and threat also organize for LCG to improve their understanding and sharing experience and good lesson learn. Within this regularly support and strengthening the capacity, LCG are playing important role in conserving these wetlands. Every month LCG conduct monitoring and patrolling in average 11 times cover the high proportion of sites. 69 bird species have been record in Beung Preak Lopouv and 33 bird species and the 183 sarus crane (highest data) have been record in Kampong Trach in year 2007. Illegal fishing gear, bird trapping and poison, land encroachment, grass burning, wild vegetable up rooting and other illegal activities was ceased and significantly decrease pressure on biodiversity of wetland. Base on actually out put appear on the site LCGs are proud on their working, Mr. Seng Vanna (LCG leader in Beung Preak Lapouv) express his idea that “ what makes me want to work as LCG is that I am proud to take part in the protection of natural resources. I see what we have been lost in term of birds and fish, in wild vegetation of this wetland, now it appearing again�. But even these two sites currently committed to conserve by LCG and official designated as protected area, the clear operational management plan and management structure and infrastructure improvement are still required for conserve these globally important wetland IBA. Bou Vorsak, Acting Program Manager of BirdLife International - Cambodia Programme The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina

The foraging ecology of White-shouldered Ibis For the first time, a scientific study is beginning to shed light on one of Indochina’s most threatened waterbirds. White-shouldered ibis (Pseudibis davisoni), which has a global population of less than 500, has undergone a severe and poorly-understood decline and consequently is now critically endangered. The reasons for this decline and the basic ecology of the species have been the subject of much speculation, but until now have lacked proper research. Hugh Wright, University of East Anglia, UK, has completed a Masters degree thesis that focused on the foraging ecology of white-shouldered ibis. Working in close collaboration with BirdLife International in Indochina, the study took place in Western Siem Pang Important Bird Area (IBA), northern Cambodia. This currently unprotected site is of global importance for white-shouldered ibis, and a total of 86 whiteshouldered ibis sightings (averaging 2 birds per sighting) resulted from 50 fieldwork days in the area from March-May 2008. Surveys of white-shouldered ibis confirmed late dry season preferences for trapaengs (seasonal pools), matrix sites such as dry dipterocarp forest itself and fallow rice fields, as well as reported use of sandy islands in the Sekong river. The relative importance of trapaeng and the matrix sites was dramatically related to rainfall (Figure 1), with a shift in preference to matrix sites after rainfall events. This switch is likely to be driven by prey abundance or availability and corresponds with observations at other sites where the ibis has left trapaengs and river channels in favour of forests at the onset of the wet season.

Figure. 1. The selection of trapaengs versus matrix foraging sites by white-shouldered ibis, as influenced by rainfall. Each time period represents four days between 11th March and 9th May 2008, gaps indicate a period of 4 days in which no visits to the study site were undertaken. White-shouldered ibis sightings (trapaengs n = 21, matrix n = 13) are expressed as the number of sightings per day spent surveying.

The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina White-shouldered ibis demonstrated habitat structure preferences at trapaeng and matrix sites. Occurrence was greater at foraging sites with high levels of bare substrate and low vegetation height and cover. Trapaengs with low amounts of tall vegetation around their perimeters were also preferred. Human disturbance has been identified as a potential threat to white-shouldered ibis, and the study also found that the ibis selected matrix sites with a lower likelihood of human encounters. Grazing has been postulated as an important process in creating foraging habitat for white-shouldered ibis, and this study provides the first evidence to support this theory. Densities of domestic cattle and water buffalo were positively related to habitat conditions that the species selected. Given the ibis’ preference for bare substrate and low vegetation, the influence of livestock on trapaeng and matrix habitats may be crucial to providing foraging habitat, particularly in the early dry season when these preferred conditions will be limited. Observation of foraging white-shouldered ibis at trapaengs confirmed a diet of small invertebrates, amphibians and eels. Non-visual feeding strategies were employed to catch the prey, and these varied depending on the nature of the substrate. The ibis demonstrated microhabitat preferences for damp mud surrounding pools, and dry mud with cracks or holes. Interestingly the birds were not observed foraging in water, suggesting that this species is most similar to the more terrestrial members of the Threskiornithidae subfamily. Hugh Wright, University of East Anglia

A White-shouldered Ibis, demonstrating its preference for foraging in areas with high levels of bare substrate and low vegetation height, at the edge of a trapaeng The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina Research on white-shouldered ibis is set to continue with the start of a PhD study beginning this autumn. To uncover the reasons for the ibis’ decline and to find the most effective conservation solutions, the project will focus on the historical distribution, current population status, foraging ecology, breeding ecology and the effectiveness of conservation interventions. The study will incorporate four of the most important sites for this species, and in the process will integrate the efforts of several major NGOs to monitor and conserve white-shouldered ibis. Of particular study interest is the importance of large river channels relative to the dry dipterocarp forest ecosystem, as this may help to explain the disappearance of this waterbird. The role of extensive grazing systems and the potential influence of anthropogenic fires in the dry dipterocarp forest is another worthwhile topic of research. If these traditional land management practises prove crucial to the survival of white-shouldered ibis in dry dipterocarp forest ecosystems, then they may provide the foundation for successful community-based conservation programmes. Hugh Wright, University of East Anglia

Conservation Ecology of Bengal Florican: Update August 2008 The movements of a Critically Endangered bustard species, the Bengal Florican (Houbaropsis bengalensis), are being tracked in Cambodia using satellite technology. Three male Florican were caught in March 2008 in the grasslands surrounding the Tonle Sap lake in Kampong Thom Province. These birds were fitted with solar-powered satellite transmitters. The transmitters use satellites to obtain positional data which are then sent daily directly to the researcher’s computer. The overview map (Figure 1) shows the locations of the 3 birds in Kampong Thom and Siem Reap Provinces, since they were fitted with transmitters in March, until the end of August 2008. The Integrated Farming and Biodiversity Areas (IFBAs), special areas that protect Florican habitat as well as the livelihoods of the local communities, are also shown. SC 72044 is a male, caught in full adult plumage. During the breeding season this male moved around the Stoung-Chikreng area, suggesting that he did not hold a regular territory and may be a second year/subordinate male. SK 67512 was also a male, caught in his territory and observed displaying in this area, which explains the tight cluster of locations during the breeding season. BR 72047 was a sub-adult male, fully grown but in female-like plumage. This bird has moved around considerably in the area to the south of the Baray IFBA during the breeding season. This male would not have had a territory and therefore would not be expected to remain in one small area, but to move around more freely. In mid-August, SC 72044 and SK 67512 both moved away from the breeding season grasslands, which become flooded as the Tonle Sap lake rises and the rainy season sets in. However, BR 72047 is still (as of the end of August) in the breeding season area. SC 72044 has moved to the area close to the newly proposed Tumpich IFBA (a journey of approximately 25km) whilst the San Kor male has moved towards a second newly proposed IFBA in the Tuol Kreul area (an approximately 35km journey). These two new IFBAs are situated in upland regions with dry dipterocarp forest habitat and were set up to protect areas believed to be important for Florican in the non-breeding season. Wet season surveys conducted by the The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina

Figure 1. Overview map of the satellite locations of 3 male Florican; SC 72044 (originally caught in Stoung-Chikreng IFBA), SK 67512 (caught at San Kor) & BR 72047 (caught in Baray IFBA) in Kampong Thom and Siem Reap Provinces, Cambodia. Locations are from the date of tagging in March, until August 2008. Integrated Farming & Biodiversity Areas (IFBAs) are also shown and named. The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Cambodia Program have recorded Florican in these areas previously, but the movements of birds between breeding and non-breeding season sites have not before been documented. The satellite data should provide more information on wet season movements and areas utilised by Florican in the non-breeding season. The habitat requirements of the species can be investigated in these areas and used to guide management practices and implementation of protected areas. Next season it is hoped that more satellite transmitters can be deployed to build up a fuller picture of seasonal movements of Florican from a wider range of sites around the Tonle Sap lake. Charlotte Packman, University of East Anglia The transmitters should continue to transmit data for a few more years, so we look forward to more updates from Charlotte on the movements of the floricans. More information on he work with the floricans and an interesting video can be found at animals-news/cambodia-bird-apvin.html Eds.

A male Bengal Florican, its head covered by a specially modified sock, receives its solar powered satellite transmitter

The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina

Conserving Bengal Floricans and improving rural livelihoods around the Tonle Sap, the world’s largest floodplain lake, Cambodia: Narrative Report (RNF2), 1st January – 31st July 2008 There were several significant achievements in site management during this period. In particular the greatly expanded and redesigned extension programme was delivered in 71 villages to over 3,200 people, and in the process 71 village volunteers were recruited to take part in site management activities. Joint patrolling systems have been consolidated and expanded to include two teams, with 63 days of patrols logged in the first six months of the year. Staff training was conducted to prepare for the development of zoning and management plans during the final semester. The livelihood improvement work of CEDAC continues to run smoothly and to attract new farmer participants. The IFBAs continue to face severe threats from land-grabbing. Losses have apparently slowed compared to 2007 but it has not been possible to reclaim any of the land that has been illegally taken It has been recognized since late 2007 that increased legal protection would be needed for the IFBAs, and the slow process of achieving this has taken up much time for our senior staff. Substantial boundary revisions have been proposed, consulted upon and agreed. Commitments have now been received from the Provincial Governor of Kompong Thom and from a very high level in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries that improved protection will be given. We expect a revised Provincial Deika to be issued within a few weeks and hope for a Ministerial Order by the end of 2008. The project received extensive favorable international news coverage due to the visits of two journalists in March and May 2008. The stories ran in many newspapers including the Bangkok Post, Washington Post, International Herald Tribune and the Christian Science Monitor. In addition, a short video feature can be found on the National Geographic website. This project is funded by Fondation Ensemble Eds.

Livelihood initiative training in action: village planning (left), and improved rice cultivation methods (right). (Photo: Trang)

The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina

Completing protected areas systems in priority landscapes in Cambodia and Vietnam project: summary of progress in year 2 Overall the project is being implemented as designed but the two project sites face challenges caused by a newly revealed lack of government commitment to conservation at both sites. It is unlikely within the time frame of this project that further progress can be made towards achieving the first project objective to formerly establish Bac Huong Hoa as a Nature Reserve. This objective has been achieved at one important level (national designation) but not at a second (management board establishment). Significant progress has been made in strengthening conservation management at both sites and further progress is expected in Year 3. Project implementation is ahead of schedule and is likely to finish ahead of schedule. Of the seven project outcomes, one has been fully achieved and six have been partially achieved. Of the 20 project activities, twelve are now finished, and eight are ongoing. Fund disbursement is ahead of schedule in Cambodia and behind schedule in Vietnam. The biodiversity values and conservation needs of Bac Huong Hoa Nature Reserve are now better understood and have been fully documented for the first time and will be published in Year 3. Bac Huong Hoa has now been gazetted as a nature reserve and an interim management board has been established. The failure of the province to formally constitute a management board is a serious impediment to future project implementation. The capacity of Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary staff to undertake conservation activities has been increased following a needs assessment and through the provision of equipment, training courses and the project meeting operational costs. In Year 2 Cambodian staff participated in a study tour to Thailand. Bac Huong Hoa Nature Reserve staff will receive trainings in Year 3. Study courses for staff from both sites will also be conducted in Year 3 including to Bach Ma National Park in Vietnam and Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary in India. Encroachment into Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary has increased, but so has the capacity of the staff to deal with such infringements. Previously protection emphasis was placed on illegal logging activities but emphasis has now switched to preventing encroachment into key landscape features including trapeangs and veals which are accelerating. In an attempt to better understand resource use we have commissioned studies funded elsewhere. Operational management plans have been developed for both Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary and Bac Huong Hoa Nature Reserve and implementation of selected activities has already begun. Knowledge and "lessons learned" from this and the previous MacArthur funded project have been drafted into a journal paper for publication in Year 3. Two further technical reports will be published early in Year 3. During the reporting period a total of US $201,382 was secured from the Netherlands Government, the The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina United States Fish and Wildlife Service and WWF to support project activities or complementary activities at Bac Huong Hoa Nature Reserve (US $ 46,500) and Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary (US $ 154,882). No progress in securing long-term government funding for either site was made. Additionally project resources were used to develop new project proposals to the European Commission to explore and promote co-mangement at Bac Huong Hoa and Dakrong Nature Reserves (a site under the previous round of MacArthur funding) in Vietnam and at Western Siem Pang in Cambodia. Additionally a second proposal was formulated for Western Siem Pang and submitted to JICA. The principle challenge to successful project implementation at Bac Huong Hoa Nature Reserve is the failure of the Quang Tri People’s Committee to formally establish the nature reserve management board. Until this is done there will be no government financial resources made available for meeting the re-current costs of nature reserve management. We must interpret this as a lack of commitment on the part of the government. It has immediate implementation of the operational management plan and threatens to undermine BirdLife’s future commitment to the site. During the course of the second year of project implementation it became clear that the level of funding provided by the Cambodian Government to meet routine operational costs of Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary is wholly inadequate. The biggest challenge that emerged during the second year of project implementation in Cambodia was the discovery that proposals exist to build at dam on the Srepok River that would flood one third of the wildlife sanctuary. For these reasons within the framework of this project we have additionally begun to support Protected Forest Designation for part of the Western Siem Pang Important Bird Area. This areas lies within the same landscape as Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary and is managed by the Forestry Administration. Lowland forest in Bac Huong Hoa Nature Reserve. Habitat which is ideal for species such as the Near Threatened Blyth’s Kingfisher Alcedo hercules. (Photo J. C. Eames).

The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina

Making the Link: the Connection and Sustainable Management of Kon Ka Kinh National Park and Kon Cha Rang Nature Reserve: Final Project Report Executive Summary The Kon Ka Kinh-Kon Cha Rang Landscape (KKK-KCR Landscape) contains Kon Ka Kinh National Park (KKK NP) and Kon Cha Rang Nature Reserve (KCR NR) in north-eastern Gia Lai Province, central Vietnam. KKK NP and KCR NR are global priorities for biodiversity conservation because they support most of the unique biological attributes of the Central Annamites Priority Landscape (Tordoff et al. 2002), and some of the most intact faunal and floral communities remaining in Vietnam. The forest area between these two Special Use Forests is under the management of two State Forest Enterprises, Dakroong and Tram Lap. However, these forests are thought to be vital for maintaining the ecological integrity of the KKK-KCR Landscape. BirdLife’s “Forest Analysis, Development of an Ecological Monitoring Framework, and Hands-on Training of Protected Area staff for Ecological Monitoring at the Kon Ka Kinh– Kon Cha Rang Project Landscape” project has two main aims which seek to investigate and build capacity to conserve the biological integrity of the Landscape. These aims are the survey and documentation of the biological attributes of the KKK-KCR Landscape, including the two SFEs, and the development of an ecological monitoring framework and delivering of training in the use of this framework to enable monitoring of these biodiversity attributes. This report details the results of this project. A literature search was undertaken to fully document the history of biological research and the biodiversity values of the KKK-KCR Landscape. Biological exploration of the project area did not begin until 1980, when the National Science Committee conducted their first expedition in the region. However, the highlight of the period of exploration in the Landscape came in 1999, when a distinctive new bird for science, Chestnut-eared Laughingthrush Garrulax konkakinhensis was discovered by a BirdLife International-Vietnam Programme in collaboration with the Forest Inventory and Planning Institute (FIPI) survey (Eames and Eames 2001). The desk study is complemented by a gap analysis, which revealed major gaps in ecological knowledge of the project landscape. Ecological, taxonomic and geographical knowledge gaps exist, but it is perhaps the geographical knowledge gaps that are of most concern from a conservation or management perspective, for instance, very few biological surveys have previously been undertaken in either of the two SFEs. In order to fill some of the knowledge gaps, biological surveys were carried out in the KKK-KCR Landscape. Since it was not feasible to survey the whole landscape and address all research deficiencies, a desk analysis which made use of remote sensing techniques was employed to identify key areas for survey. This desk analysis used data on forest cover and altitude to select survey areas which were likely to be of high biodiversity value, or suitable for collaborative management. Three main areas were identified which were likely to be of high biodiversity value, namely, the mid-and high-elevation areas of Kon Ka Kinh NP, the northern sections of Tram Lap and Dakroong SFEs, and Kon Cha Rang NR (including much of the proposed An Toan nature reserve and adjacent areas to the north. The field surveys confirmed the results of the desk analysis. The northern part of Dakroong and Tram Lap SFEs was found to be particularly important for biodiversity and likely to be of high value for conservation in a landscape contect. Globally threatened mammals such as Grey-shanked Douc Pygathrix cinereus and Large-antlered Muntjac Muntiacus vuquangensis were found in that area, and the endemic Chestnut-eared Laughingthrush was also recorded – the first record away from the type locality, Mt Kon The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina Ka Kinh in Kon Ka Kinh National Park. This area is likely to function as a habitat corridor between the two Special Use Forests and therefore plays a vital role in maintaining populations of wide-ranging threatened species, such as Tiger Panthera tigris, in the KKK-KCR Landscape. Although a significant repository of biodiversity, the KKK-KCR Landscape faces many threats. The Project brought together local stakeholders to discuss and evaluate the threats to biodiversity in the KKKKCR Landscape, and to give them an opportunity to propose solutions to the problems. Hunting, trapping and illegal logging were identified as the key threats, although infrastructure development is likely to negatively affect a significant land area as well. To effectively conserve the biodiversity attributes of the KKK-KCR Landscape, a comprehensive monitoring programme is essential. BirdLife project staff worked with FMU management staff to design a suitable ecological monitoring framework for the KKK-KCR Landscape. This ecological monitoring framework enables effective monitoring of populations of key indicator species through repeat surveying of transects, to detect the effect of hunting and trapping on wild animal populations. It encourages the establishment of permanent plots to monitor high value timber species such as Fokienia hodginsii to monitor the rate of illegal logging. The ecological monitoring framework also encourages staff to record forest resource use by local people. The project provided theory and field based training to 13 staff from KKK NP, KCR NR and Tram Lap SFE in the use of the ecological monitoring framework. The field based sessions provided on-the-job training to participants as they gathered baseline data from transects and permanent plots. The data collected was of good quality but also demonstrated that more data needs to be gathered, in order to have sufficient data to generate trends. Training materials used in these training courses are provided at the end of this report, to enable trainees, who were also trained as trainers, to deliver training to other staff of the FMUs. Encouragingly, some of these trainees consider themselves well equipped to train other members of staff, and all trainees feel confident to implement the ecological monitoring framework. Unfortunately, since the baseline data was collected not further ecological monitoring data has been collected. Forest managers receive no monetary support for monitoring activities from the government, unless they can source external funds it is unlikely that the ecological monitoring framework will be used beyond this pilot stage. The KKKKCR Landscape is still one of the most important areas in Vietnam for biodiversity, and it requires effective management to maintain its biological integrity. Unless rangers have the opportunity to use the skills they gained during this project and continue effective monitoring, the biological integrity of the Landscape is likely to decline. Le Trong Trai, Nguyen Duc Tu and Simon Mahood, BirdLife International Vietnam Programme

The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina

Integrating watershed and biodiversity management, Chu Yang Sin National Park, Dak Lak Province, Vietnam: year three progress report Progress in the third year (July 2007-June 2008) of the project has been good. The year has been characterised by an impressive quantity of staff training, the beginning of the awareness programme and the development of linkages between the park, project and other local agencies. These lay the framework for a successful last two years. Monitoring of project progress and effects has begun under the revised monitoring and evaluation framework. Although a number of activities are behind schedule due to difficulties hiring consultants, the project team has acknowledged this and steps are being taken to speed up activity implementation. Following the annual Project Steering Committee meeting and World Bank’s project review in late June 2007, project implementation was refined and consolidated. Highlights of the third year of the IWBM project included: - The relevant authorities in Dak Lak Province and members of the steering committee have given strong support to the project. In particular, they have created conditions to enable international experts to work in CYSNP. There has been good cooperation between CYSNP management staff, park rangers and project staff, who have enjoyed working together on the project. -Opportunities for synergising park and project aims with the objectives of other projects and organisations were investigated. As a direct result of this, the national park is now working closely with the neighbouring Forest Protection Departments and staff of Bi Dup – Nui Ba NP to coordinate law enforcement through joint patrols. Agreements setting out regulations for cooperation between the national park and the Forest Protection Department in Krong Bong District have been formalised. Agreements with the Forest Protection Departments in Lak District (Dak Lak Province) and Dam Rong District (Lam dong Province) are at an advanced stage of negotiations. Joint patrols have been conducted with staff from Bi Dup Nui Ba National Park along border areas, and these uncovered a major wildlife hunting incident which received media coverage. - A series of training courses were held for staff at all levels in the national park; notable highlights were as follows. Eight park rangers received training in the use of patrol dogs. This has brought increased respect to rangers from local communities, and has built confidence and enthusiasm for patrol activities. Rangers and senior park staff visited Bi Dup Nui Ba and Cat Tien national parks to discuss issues relating to park management and to share experiences. This visit encouraged participants, and enabled them to see new and different ways of addressing old challenges. Towards the end of the year, the park director attended a five day training course on small grant project proposal development. Legal training was delivered to park staff, and to district level legal professionals: the project supported four legal professionals from the district court and prosecution services and one member of the national park staff so that they could participate in a two days training course on Forest Law, organised by IUCN/ARBCP. - The project implemented the first reptile and amphibian survey of CYSNP. As a result of this survey, one new species of frog was described and named after the national park. - A participatory social assessment of the effects of the national park on buffer zone communities was conducted, focussing on the Ede, M’nong and H’mong ethnic minorities. The study examined issues which matter to communities in the buffer zone and the impact of the national park on their lives and livelihood. It found that the national park has no significant negative impact on the lives of indigenous ethnic minority peoples, and that the establishment of the national park was not an important benchmark in their lives. - A five member Awareness Team was formed who will implement the awareness programme. Training The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina of these staff began towards the end of year three, and will continue into the first two quarters of year four as they begin to implement the awareness programme. - Following completion of the Monitoring and Evaluation Framework the first assessment of project impacts in terms of Pressure, State and Response was conducted, using the framework. This involved the collection of data on all the indicators in the framework, including data from the ongoing biological monitoring programme, and the production of a report with management recommendations. The results were encouraging: although the State of the national park appears to have deteriorated slightly, the project has stabilised the Pressures acting on the national park and improved the ability of the national park to respond to these pressures. - The trade chain survey was fully written up and prepared for publication. This, the first technical memorandum to be published from this project, will be published early in year four. Despite these achievements, the project has faced a number of difficulties. Threats to the park’s biodiversity, through infrastructure development, hunting and logging continue to worsen. It now appears highly likely that the East Truong Son road will be built through CYSNP, following the rejection of an alternative route proposed by the park. There are also plans for a second, larger, hydropower plant in an area of the park that is particularly rich in biodiversity. Due to on going rapid inflation, the prices of the building materials have prevented the upgrading of guard stations from beginning this year, plans must now be revised and new quotes obtained. Difficulty in recruiting suitably qualified and affordable shortterm consultants has delayed the start of a number of activities. In addition, an abnormally long rainy season, the shortage of human resources in the later half of quarter two and quarter three, when all park staff were deployed in the forest to combat rampant illegal logging, has further delayed a number of activities.

Following intimidation and violence used by illegal loggers against forest guards, the project has supported the management board to train a specialized team of dogs and guards. Rangers report a drop in violent incidents against guards following deployment of the dog patrols. (Photo: Ross Hughes). The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina

The illegal wildlife and timber trade network around Chu Yang Sin National Park, Dak Lak Province, Vietnam Chu Yang Sin National Park, located 60km from Dak Lak’s provincial capital, Buon Me Thuot, is of global importance for conservation due to the species and habitats it protects. The National Park encompasses 58,947ha of broadleaf evergreen forest at middle and upper altitudes. It supports all eight of the restricted-range species that define the Da Lat Plateau Endemic Bird Area (EBA), including two Endangered species with worldwide ranges confined to the Da Lat Plateau (Tordoff 2002). Due to its relatively remote setting, large size and difficult topography, CYSNP still supports globally important populations of Black-shanked Douc (Pygathrix nigripes) and Yellow-cheeked Crested Gibbon (Nomascus gabriellae). Unsustainable levels of hunting to supply the trade in wildlife, is playing a major role in the extinction crisis and is perhaps the greatest threat to wildlife across the tropics (Robinson & Bennett 2000; Bennett et al. 2002; Milner-Gulland et al. 2003). The rate and scale of illegal exploitation of wildlife and timber has increased rapidly in Indochina in recent years, due to increasing demand from an expanding rich middle class, facilitated by a rapidly modernizing communication and transportation infrastructure throughout the region. Due to its location, CYSNP has until recently, been exposed to relatively little hunting for commercial purposes and no illegal logging. However, throughout the last decade, increasing immigration of Kinh and H’Mong ethnic minority groups into the CYSNP area, has led to land shortages and increased competition for resources with Ede and M’Nong indigenous ethnic minority groups. In combination with the increase in demand, the presence of skilled hunters and many people with little land and low income has resulted in the extension of the commercial wildlife trade network to CYSNP. An efficient wildlife and timber trade network is currently in place employing at least 500 people in the buffer zone of CYSNP, driven by the demand for wildlife and timber products in often distant urban centres. There is at least one small-scale wildlife and timber trader in each commune and village to whom local hunters rapidly sell animals and their parts. In turn, there is one large-scale trader in each district, whom together with the owners of the largest wildlife meat restaurants, buy from the smallscale traders and arrange the export of live animals and their parts to elsewhere in the province and as far away as Ho Chi Minh City. As well as these individuals, a significant number of other stakeholders currently make all or part of their income from the transport or processing of illegal wildlife and timber. This is placing considerable pressure on animal populations in the national park, for instance, each cao (medicinal alcohol) maker in the buffer zone of CYSNP uses approximately 350 kg of primates annually. Despite a high level of awareness of the scale of the problem among the national park staff, the rates of hunting and deforestation appear to be increasing. Several recommendations are put forward in this report to reduce the illegal trade activities now threatening the biological integrity of CYSNP. These include: improving law enforcement inside the park to combat illegal hunting and logging, capacity building of key park staff, increased co-ordination with other law enforcement agencies, and public awareness campaigns. For these measures to be effective, district and provincial level law enforcement efforts must target the large-scale traders and restaurant owners in an attempt to disrupt the trade network that is driving the rapid loss of mammals and high-value timber from the national park. Le Trong Trai and Simon Mahood, BirdLife International Vietnam Programme The above is the executive summary of a technical report with has been published online at http://, hard copies will be available shortly. Eds The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina

Two new species described from Chu Yang Sin National Park, Dak Lak Province, Vietnam

Holotypes of Rhacophorus chuyangsinensis sp. nov., male (above) and Cyrtodactylus ziegleri sp. nov., (below). These species were described following research undertaken at Chu Yang Sin National park as part of the Integrating Watershed and Biodiversity Management Project (Photos by N. Orlov)

References: Nazarov, R. A., Orlov, N. L., Nguyen Ngoc Sang, Ho Thu Cuc (2008) Taxonomy of naked-toes geckos Cyrtodactylus irregularis complex of southe Vietnam and description of a new species from Chu Yang Sin National Park (Krong Bong District, Dac Lac Province, Vietnam. Russian Jouranl of Herpetology 15: 141-156 Orlov, N. L., Nguyen Ngoc Sang, Ho Thu Cuc (2008) Description of a new species and records of Rhacophorus genus (Amphibia: Anura: Rhacophoridae) with the review of amphibians and reptiles diversity of Chu Yang Sin National Park (Dac Lac Province, Vietnam) Russian Journal of Herpetology 15: 67-84 The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina

A new subspecies of Tesia olivea (Sylviidae) from Chiang Mai province, northern Thailand Abstract We collected several individuals of the Slaty-bellied Tesia Tesia olivea in the temperate rain forest of the sub-Himalayan region of northeastern Burma/Myanmar in February/March 2004 and March 2006. Subsequent comparison of these with T. olivea from northeastern India and northern Thailand revealed that while our northeastern Burma/Myanmar birds were similar to those from northwestern India, specimens of both populations were distinctly different from T. olivea from Chiang Mai Province of northern Thailand and northern Vietnam. Herein, we designate the latter populations as members of a new subspecies of T. olivea based on analyses of variations in morphometric characters, plumage, song, and mitochondrial (mt)DNA sequence. Reference: Renner, S. C., Rappole, J. H., Rasmussen, P. C., Thein Aung myint Aung, Nay Myo Shwe, Dumbacher, J. P., Fleischer, R. C. (2008) A new subspecies of Tesia olivea (Sylviidae) from Chiang Mai Province, northern Thailand. Journal of Ornithology 149: 439-450

Tesia olivea chiangmaiensis: the subspecies described by Renner et al. (2008). Note the lustre of the crown, which is less intense in this subspecies than it is in T. o. olivea. To the best of our knowledge this is the first published photograph of this taxon. (Photo J. C. Eames)

The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina

Piloting an Approach to Multiple-use Forest Management in Lam Dong Province: training needs assessment The current protected area network in Vietnam is too small to effectively conserve biodiversity in the long-term. Moreover, forest outside of Special Use Forests, such as protection and production forests, hold significant levels of biodiversity. The TFF funded project entitled “Piloting an Approach to Multiple-use Forest management in Lam Dong Province� aims to implement effective biodiversity conservation outside of protected areas through piloting multiple-use forest management techniques across a range of forest management units. For effective management of forest using the principles of multiple use management, staff of DARD and relevant FMUs will require skills in planning, identification and management of forest of high conservation value. Management of forest of high conservation value will require knowledge of appropriate management strategies, law enforcement and monitoring and evaluation of management. The first stage in designing an effective training programme is assessing the training needs of relevant staff. This document reports on the design of the training needs assessment (TNA), the implementation and results of the TNA and the training programme. The TNA consisted of an objective assessment of staff capacity (a questionnaire using mainly multiplechoice questions, designed in collaboration with the PMU), an opportunity for staff to prioritize skills listed in the questionarre and assess their own capacity, and a participatory discussion with project staff about their training needs. The assessment revealed that the main training needs of the staff differed between staff groups. Managers and technical staff required training in the identification and management of forests of high conservation value using multiple-use techniques, including the design of monitoring programmes. Rangers were found to need training in survey and identification skills, and additional training in law enforcement techniques, including the use of GPS. An appropriate training schedule was designed and approved by the PMU to deliver these key skills to staff. This exciting new project, which begun during this quarter, will deliver training in zoning and multiple-use forest managers to staff of FMUs in Lam Dong Province. Project progress has been good and training will begin in the next quarter. Eds.

The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina

Publications Nguyen Dao Ngoc Van and Nguyen Tap (Comps) (2008). An overview of the use of plants and animals in traditional medicine systems in Viet Nam. TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, Greater Mekong Programme, Ha Noi, Viet Nam. and Ashwell, D. and Walston, N. (2008). An overview of the use and trade of plants and animals in traditional medicine systems in Cambodia. TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, Greater Mekong Programme, Ha Noi, Viet Nam.

These two reports, published simultaneously, provide a comprehensive and informative account of the use of animals and plants in traditional medicines in Vietnam and Cambodia. A through understanding of this subject is a strong advantage in preventing the illegal wildlife trade in the region, and these two reports will therefore be important reference material for anyone involved in conservation in Indochina.

Nguyen Van Sang (2008) Wildlife trading in Vietnam: Situation, Causes and Solutions. The Journal of Environment and Development 17: 145-165 Abstract This report provides data on the logistics, scope, and economics of the illegal trade in wildlife Vietnam. It analyses the main reasons for the rapid growth in this trade and highlights the country's attempts to control it. This report recommends that the government should strengthen the capacity of the agencies responsible for fighting the trade and raise their budgets. It also highlights the need to use education to encourage Vietnam people to stop consuming illegal products. The report concludes that given the scale of the problem, a high level of commitment levels of government will be needed to significantly affect the illegal wildlife trade

The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina

Reviews A Field Guide to the Large Mammals of Laos A Field Guide to the Large Mammals of Vietnam John W. K. Parr and Hoang Xuan Thuy 2008 248 pages, illus, colour plates. People and Nature Reconciliation, Thong Tan Publishing House, Hanoi

In August 9th July 2008, People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature) has launched the publication “Field Guide to the Large Mammals of Vietnam”. This publication was made possible with financial support from the World Bank/Netherlands Biodiversity Partnership Programme and the Sida Environment Fund (SEF). The publication is consisted of both English and Vietnamese versions and it was first Mammal Guidebook was produced for Vietnam. In c. 250 pages, the authors, John Parr and Hoang Xuan Thuy, had introduced the description, distribution and conservation status of 127 mammal species of Vietnam togher with 36 colour plates. In addition, an introduction detailing history of mammal studies, mammal diversity and conservation status, and conservation efforts for mammal fauna of Vietnam. The book also includes a checklist of more than 300 mammals species recorded for Vietnam and plates illustrating of mammal tracks to help the field identification. Vietnam’s wildlife, especially large mammals, is under severe threats from hunting and trading, and habitat loss. These problems result from the lack of understanding on mammals and their importance in nature. This Field Guide therefore will be an excellent resource for all readers, not only for those working in nature conservation but for scientists, students and nature enthusiasts. This book was funded with a hope that all revenue from sales of it will be used for producing more nature and conservation-focused resources. Nguyen Duc Tu, Wetlands Programme Officer, BirdLife International in Indochina The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina

A Field Guide to the Amphibians of Cambodia Neang Thy and Jeremy Holden 2008 127 pages, illus, colour photos. Fauna and Flora International, Phnom Penh, Cambodia This is the first field guide to the amphibians of Cambodia. It comes at a time when amphibians, despite still being poorly known, are increasingly recognized as the most threatened vertebrate group. The amphibians of Cambodia are no exception to these trends, they are in equal parts poorly known and highly threatened. This book is lavishly illustrated throughout with high quality photographs of species and habitats. This means that although it is very much an identification guide, it is also very attractive and easy to dip into. The book begins with a series of introductory sections on Cambodia and its amphibian fauna, habitat types and the details of frog morphology. It then rapidly moves on the identification section which makes up the bulk of the book. Each species is illustrated by a colour photograph, and text describes the it’s identification, ecology and distribution. This book will be indispensable to those who study amphibians or have; an interest in natural history of the region. However, due to the nature of its subject and the speed of research a second edition will quickly be required. Simon Mahood, Conservation Advisor, BirdLife International in Indochina

Education for Nature Vietnam Website Education for Nature Vietnam have launched a new website focused on the wildlife trade. This website is complementary to their main website, The new website presents key facts about the wildlife trade in Vietnam alongside emotive pictures of the victims of the trade. It is both a useful resource, and an opportunity for action. Information is presented by species group, and visitors can easily donate money, or report a wildlife crime to the ENV hotline. The website is an excellent forum for showcasing ENV’s tireless struggle to prevent the illegal wildlife trade in Vietnam, and leaves those who witness a wildlife crime with no excuse but to report it immediately.

The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina

Staff During the third quarter of 2008 we welcome a plethora of new staff. At our Vietnam Programme office we extend a warm welcome to the newest members of the BirdLife team, Dao Van Hien, and Tran Thi Thanh Huong who will be working under the leadership of John Pilgrim on the CEPF-RIT Project. Under the same project we also welcome Ouk Thira who will be based in our Cambodia office. Also at that office we welcome a new driver, Nop Thy; Ma Danik, who will be providing admin and finance assistance, and Melanie Motts, an AYAD volunteer, as community awareness officer. The ADB team also has two new national monitoring experts, Vanna Nuon in Cambodia and Apirat Iamsiri. We wish all departing staff every success with their future endeavors and welcome the newcomers. Dao Van Hien Hien Dao started work with BirdLife at the beginning of August, as the Project Officer for Vietnam and Laos, for the CEPF-RIT project. Hien has a strong background in environmental science and management. He worked at the Ministry of Industry, Vietnam, from 1996 to 2003 when he was awarded an Australian Development Scholarship to study in Australia. Hien spent three and a half years at Victoria University obtaining a PhD degree on environmental management and conservation, followed by a year as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the same university. By taking up this position with BirdLife, Hien wishes to contribute not only to the success of the CEPF-RIT project but also to the development of BirdLife in its mission of biodiversity conservation.

Ouk Thira Thira joined BirdLife at the beginning of August as the Project Officer for Cambodia, for the CEPF-RIT project. He studied at the Royal University of Agriculture and Law in Cambodia, obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Forestry and Law. He also has valuable experience in natural resource and environmental management in Cambodia, much of which has been gained through employment with the Tonle Sap Environmental Management Project and Concern Worldwide's Community Forestry Programme. Working with these projects, his main responsibilities were to provide grant funding support and capacity building to local communities, NGOs and government departments. Thira's experience in both grant-making and capacity building has laid a sound foundation for his new position, and he commits to impart his skills, knowledge and experiences to other staff so as to achieve the common goals of BirdLife. The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina Tran Thi Thanh Huong Huong started work for BirdLife as the Administrator for the CEPFRIT project in late July. She studied Tourism and English at Hanoi National University but eventually followed a path into administration - previously working at Education for Nature Vietnam and, most recently, at the Korea-Vietnam Foundation. She is very proud of her work, and is looking forward to supporting the team. In addition to her core administration role, she will be leading communications efforts for the project.

Vanna Nuon Vanna who has recently worked as the National Monitoring Expert in Cambodia since July 2008, replaced Ou Chouly who moved to USA for PhD. He did Master’s degree at Asian Institute of Technology in the field of Aquaculture and Aquatic Resources Management. Moreover, his master’s thesis focused mainly on Community-Based Fishery Management, and he conducted the survey in one village namely Krala Peah at Stung Treng Ramsar Site. Previously, he worked for Stung Treng Provincial Department of Environment and holds the position as Chief of Nature Conservation and Protection and Natural Resource Assessment Office.

Apirat Iamsiri Apirat Iamsiri completed his Msc at the Chiang Mai University in Environmental Risk Assessment Program, followed by a PhD in environmental technology at the King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi. His Master's thesis was EIA of ecotourism inside a wildlife sanctuary in Thailand while Hume's Pheasant was a studied species when doing PhD. To promote conservation work for Hume's Pheasant in Thailand, Apirat worked with the Hume's Pheasant Research Station for a year and proposed an activity that include local participation in doing scientific research as a main process, the project status is now recruiting fund for implementation.

The Babbler September 2008


BirdLife International in Indochina Ma Danik Danik joined Birdlife in the middle of September 2008 as Admin/Finance Assistant. She Finished at Royal University of Law and Economics in the field of Finance and Banking. She has an experience in accounting and other skills related to finance and administration

Nop Thy Nop Thy joined Birdlife at the end of April 2008 as Driver. He is responsible on driving a car for Birdlife International Cambodia Program Office and for travel to the other provinces as well.

Melanie Mott Melanie has recently started volunteer work for BirdLife International through the Australian Government's Australian Youth Ambassador for Development Program (AYAD) as Community Awareness Officer. Melanie will assist BirdLife International, Cambodia Program by adopting systems for collating and storing biological and socioeconomic information; identifying key site-based trends in biodiversity, threats, or conservation actions and developing new interactive communications methods for staff and key local stakeholders. Melanie graduated from the University of Queensland in Environmental Management (Natural Systems and Wildlife) in 2006. She also studied at Kruger National Park’s Wildlife College where she developed an understanding of issues relating to African wildlife and other natural resources. Melanie has since worked in Local Government as a Land for Wildlife Officer and has been an active member of the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland, Queensland Landcare as well as being a new bird enthusiast through local bird watching groups in Queensland, Australia. The Babbler September 2008


The Babbler 27  

Quarterly newsletter of BirdLife International in Indochina (July - September 2008)

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