In July this year, three villagers discovered a bird’s nest inside a hollow of the Koki tree in Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary (KPWS), Cambodia.
The nest was special — it belonged to the extremely rare white-winged duck (Asarcornis scutulata), a species with only 250 to 1,000 individuals remaining in the wild. This was also the first time in five years that a white-winged duck nest had been spotted in the Northern Plains of Cambodia.
Some of the eggs in the nest have now hatched, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) announced in a statement. In a rare moment yesterday, WCS filmed three white-winged ducklings leaving the tree-hollow, bringing hope for the endangered species.
The video also shows the mother duck waiting for her babies on a tree branch. The mother had herself been rescued by people from Prey Veng village in mid-2015 when she had been injured. She was handed her over to a WCS team, who then transferred her to Angkor Center for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB) for rehabilitation. Later in December 2015, the duck was tagged and released back to the wild.
The white-winged duck, with its black body and thickly spotted white head, is one of the largest species of ducks in the world. The waterbird was once widespread, occurring throughout Northeast India, Bangladesh and Southeast Asia.
Now, only a few hundred birds remain in the wild, their numbers plummeting due to the rapid loss of its riverine habitat, their small and scattered populations, and hunting for their eggs and meat. The white-winged duck is now listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List .
“The ducklings are the latest piece of great news resulting from an innovative program developed by WCS in conjunction with Ministry of Environment (MoE), in which local people are compensated to protect and monitor endangered birds instead of harvesting them,” WCS said in the statement.