New Delhi: Three critically endangered red-headed vulture nests have been discovered in Cambodia's Chhep Wildlife Sanctuary by conservationists.
The population of this species in Cambodia is possibly less than 50 individuals, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
These nest discoveries give hope that conservation efforts may save this species from extinction, they said.
Global vulture populations are declining at an alarming rate.
Cambodia's three vulture species - Red-headed (Sarcogyps calvus), Slender-billed (Gyps tenuirostris), and White-rumped (Gyps bengalensis) - are all listed as Critically Endangered.
Cambodia supports the largest population of vultures in Southeast Asia, but there only a few hundred individuals left in the country.
As part of the Bird's Nest Protection Program, WCS has employed six community members to protect the nests of these vultures.
Local people are incentivised to protect the Critically Endangered species until their eggs hatch and the chicks are able to leave the nest - as opposed to taking the chicks to sell.
"The Red-headed vulture is a very rare species; they are facing a high risk of extinction," said Tan Sophan, WCS's Vulture Project Coordinator in Chhep Wildlife Sanctuary.
"Besides nest protection, we also organise 'vulture restaurants' to feed vultures every month," said Sophan.
Increased levels of hunting, forest loss and land conversion, land encroachment and selective logging negatively affect the birds through loss of nesting sites and reduction in prey availability.