Thursday, August 16, 2007

Floricans under threat

Asian rare bird first to benefit from world’s largest bird conservation programme from BirdLife International.

The Bengal Florican, one of the world’s most threatened birds, will be first to benefit from a new conservation approach that aims to save all 189 of the world’s Critically Endangered birds from extinction. With less than 1,000 individual birds remaining, Bengal Florican had been given just five years before disappearing forever from its stronghold, the floodplain of the Tonle Sap lake in Cambodia.

The florican will benefit from the groundbreaking new ‘BirdLife Species Champions’ approach; whereby ‘Champions’ are being sought for Critically Endangered birds, to fund identified conservation programmes that will pull each species back from the brink of extinction. The ‘Species Champion’ for Bengal Florican will be the British Birdwatching Fair 2007, contributing toward conservation works being undertaken by BirdLife ‘Species Guardians’ working in Cambodia. Three other Critically Endangered birds will also benefit: Belding’s Yellowthroat (Mexico), Djibouti Francolin (Djibouti), Restinga Antwren (Brazil).

Since being re-discovered in Cambodia in 1999, Bengal Florican numbers have plummeted due to unregulated land conversion for intensive agriculture. The BirdLife Species Champions funding will contribute toward the government-approved ‘Integrated Farming and Biodiversity Areas’ programme in Cambodia, encouraging communities to favour ‘low-impact’ traditional farming techniques over intensive non-sustainable dry-season rice production. “It is a fantastic privilege that Birdfair can act as Species Champion for the Bengal Florican,” said Martin Davies, co-organiser of the British Birdwatching Fair. "Visitors to the fair can take heart in knowing that their contributions will directly help the survival prospects of birds that otherwise would certainly disappear from the planet forever.”

Link: ; visit the website of The Sam Veasna Center in Siem Reap for more information about how you can see the Bengal Florican and other rare species for yourself in Cambodia.

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