The giant Ibis went unrecorded for more than 50 years until it was rediscovered by WCS in 1993.
The Critically Endangered giant ibis is the largest ibis in the world, twice the size of the second largest ibis species. This avian mega-faunal relict requires huge tracts of intact lowland deciduous forest. It is shy by nature, feeding in secluded forest pools far from villages. Unlike the other large waterbirds of Cambodia's Northern Plains, the giant ibis breeds in the wet season, when it feeds on giant earthworms, eels, and frogs. It once ranged over much of mainland Southeast Asia, but the clearance of forest habitat for agriculture has restricted it to just northern and eastern Cambodia.
WCS is working in partnership with the Cambodian government to protect the species, Cambodia's National Bird, and restore populations of it and the other endangered species across the landscape. We're doing this by working closely with local communities. With a local partner, Sansom Mlup Prey (SMP), we have developed a wildlife-friendly rice product named Ibis Rice for which farmers get paid a premium for protecting forest that is vital to the giant ibis. Meanwhile, communities receive additional income from an ecotourism initiative in which birdwatchers who see the giant ibis contribute to a community fund.
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