There are three Critically Endangered Vulture species in Cambodia – White-rumped, Red-headed and Slender-billed Vultures.
There are many causes for the rapid and dramatic decline in the species in the region, including habitat loss, loss of wildlife species which would have made up their main diet, poisoning and veterinary use of the drug diclofenac, which is readily administered to sick livestock and is highly toxic to many vulture species. Fortunately this drug is not used in Cambodia, and this along with successful conservation programs of supplementary feeding mean that the country has held on to a stable population of vultures while they have disappeared from surrounding countries.
With key support from SVC, WCS maintains feeding stations or vulture restaurants in the Preah Vihear Protected Forest as a means of supporting the vulture population and conducting research. The restaurants also attract Jackal, Dhole and even Leopard has been seen, and other birds including Greater Adjutant. The ‘restaurant’ is timed to coincide with the visiting SVC group which pays for the cow thus contributing in a direct if grisly way to the conservation of these magnificent birds, and benefiting the local community in the village of Dongphlet.
A hide has been constructed close to where the cow has been killed a day or 2 before. The group arrives at the hide before dawn in order to witness the feeding spectacle of up to 70 birds on the 1 carcass as the sun comes up.
Our campsite at Boeng Toal lies close to the village of Dongphlet in Chepp district but is within Preah Vihear Wildlife Sanctuary, and the area around the vulture restaurant allows access to excellent dry deciduous forest containing many of the same species found at Tmatboey.
Improvements to the roads mean that the site is now only 3 hours from Tmatboey.