The Giant Ibis
The Giant Ibis is Cambodia’s national bird. It is the largest ibis in the world – double the sizeof the next largest – and, owing to its rarity and this exceptional size, holds near-mythical status for bird-watchers, naturalists and conservationists.
The species is in danger of extinction, with the remaining birds largely concentrated in Cambodia. Already extinct in Thailand, it is thought to be on the verge of extinction in other places too. It has been classified as Critically Endangered, predominantly due to the effects of human disturbance and hunting.
The IBIS Rice story
These farmers eked out a meagre existence growing rice, cutting trees from the forest and hunting wildlife. Many years later, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS, www.wcs.org) began working in the area and realized that farmers were in direct competition for forest and land with species like Giant Ibis (Cambodia’s national bird), so an approach was needed which would benefit both the local population and the environment.
By working together with all stakeholders, WCS, IBIS Rice farmers and government establish agreements giving villagers secure user rights for the first time. Knowing their right to live on and use the land was legally secure encouraged farmers to think longer-term. Through the IBIS Rice project, they agreed to use environmentally friendly farming methods, follow land-use plans that limit deforestation, and to stop hunting wildlife.