Cambodia's national bird the Giant Ibis is making a come-back after decades of it believed to be extinct. While the species is still categorised as critically-endangered, huge efforts are underway to bring it back from the brink of extinction and as an official BirdLife International Species Champion of the bird, Giant Ibis Transport is playing its part.
In 2007, the Giant Ibis was designated by royal decree as the Kingdom of Wonder's national bird in a bid to help raise its profile and boost conservation efforts. Featuring on the ICUN Red List as critically-endangered bird, sightings of the species went unrecorded for more than 50 years until it was rediscovered by researchers in northern Preah Vihear in the early-1990s.
Formerly found inhabiting huge swathes of mainland across Southeast Asia, today it is estimated about 200 birds populate the northern and eastern plains of Cambodia – predominantly in Preah Vihear. Deforestation, climate change and poaching are blamed for the bird's rapid decline.
Wearing the crown of the largest ibis in the world, the Giant Ibis stands at twice the size of the second largest species, hence its name. On average, adults grow up to 40.5 inches long, measuring up to 39 inches in height. The average adult bird also weighs in at 4.2kg, with a wing span of up to 22.4 inches.
The lowland bird has a striking appearance, with agrey-brown plumage and naked greyish head and upper neck. The bird also wears dark bands across the back of the head and shoulders and has pale silvery-grey wing tips with black crossbars. Its legs are orange and eyes dark red.
While bird numbers are on the rise, the meticulous conservation work carried by various organisations is critical to Giant Ibis' survival. Projects include nest protection schemes and educational programmes carried out in communities to inform on the importance of protecting the bird into the future.
Tourists are also playing a part in protecting the enigmatic bird. As part of our commitment to Cambodia, by travelling with us you are boosting bird populations because we plough a percentage of our profits into Giant Ibis conservation efforts. Giant Ibis Transport also supported the creation of wildlife documentary, Land of the Giants, which showcases the majestic beauty of the birds and can be viewed on YouTube.
Several responsible tour operators also offer adventures into the wild to see the bird first-hand in its natural habitat. The award-winning Sam Veasna Centre is a popular choice and runs an ecotourism project at Tmatboey, a remote village in KulenPromtep Wildlife Sanctuary in the Northern Plains, as well as a range of other bird- and nature-related tours.