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Cambodia said vital to vulture survival

June 26, 2012 at 5:38 PM   |   Comments

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, June 26 (UPI) -- Conservationists say Cambodia has become the last refuge for Southeast Asia's vultures facing a slide toward extinction across the continent.

The Wildlife Conservation Society, based in the United States, and the Royal Government of Cambodia said the creation of new feeding stations and a reduction of poison use in hunting are critical to saving vultures in Asia.

While Cambodia's vulture populations remain robust, a study found the use of poison by hunters and fishers for capturing other species are leading to unintended vulture mortalities.

Seventy-four percent of the 42 recorded vulture deaths during the study period were attributable to poison, researchers said.

Vulture populations across much of Asia were also decimated by the use of the veterinary drug diclofenac. Widely used as an anti-inflammatory drug for cattle, diclofenac is toxic to vultures, causing death in birds that feed on cattle carcasses.

The drug has not impacted the vulture populations of Cambodia because diclofenac is not used, researchers said.

"Fortunately, the Royal Government of Cambodia has instituted measures to ban diclofenac to ensure the survival of these important birds," Joe Walston, director of WCS's Asia Program, said in a release Monday.

"The challenge now is to reduce the indirect and direct persecution of vultures, specifically from poisoning and shooting, and longer-term pressures from habitat loss."

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