Year of compilation: 2003

Site description
The IBA is located in the northern plains of Cambodia, and is centred on the recently decreed Forest Reserve for Conservation of Genetic Diversity, Vegetation and Wildlife Resources in Chhep and Chom Khsan districts. The vegetation of the IBA is characterised by a complex mosaic of habitats, determined by soil quality, proximity to water and topography. Poorer, sandy soils, support a variety of open deciduous dipterocarp forest types, often dominated by only a few species, that characterizes this landscape. Richer, alluvial soils, often near watercourses, support more species-rich forest, dominated by tall, mature dipterocarps, with multiple canopy layers shading a complex herbaceous understorey. Extensive grasslands and seasonal meadows form a patchwork within the open deciduous dipterocarp forest that is unique to the area, and is arguably one of the richest remaining grasslands in the whole of Asia. To the north, the IBA is contiguous with areas of similar natural habitat in Laos.The IBA supports one of the most intact remaining examples of the bird community of the dry forests of central Indochina. The IBA supports a large number of globally threatened and near-threatened bird species, including Green Peafowl Pavo muticus, White-winged Duck Cairina scutulata, Sarus Crane Grus antigone, White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis, Long-billed Vulture G. indicus, Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus, Greater Adjutant Leptoptilos dubius, Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus and Black-necked Stork Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus. Most notably, the IBA supports one of the largest remaining populations of Giant Ibis Pseudibis gigantea in the world. In addition it supports small numbers of wintering Manchurian Reed Warbler Acrocephalus tangorum.

Key biodiversity
Other regionally significant bird species: Great Slaty Woodpecker, Streak-throated Woodpecker, White-bellied Woodpecker, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Alexandrine Parakeet, Green Imperial Pigeon, Orange-breasted Green Pigeon, Woolly-necked Stork, Grey Heron.

Non-bird biodiversity: Red listed mammals occuring (all from Prum Sovanna, mammal list in Preah Vihea province): Asian Elephant, Leopard, Guar, Banteng, Eld's Deer, Dhole, Tiger.Long-tailed Macaque (Macaca fascicularis), Pig-tailed Macaque (Macaca nemestrina ), Slow Loris (Nycticebus coucang).Asiatic Softshell Turtle (Amyda cartilaginea), Elongated Tortoise (Indotestudo elongata), Yellow-headed Temple Turtle (Hieremys annandalii), Giant Asian Pond Turtle (Heosemys grandis), Malayan Box Turtle (Cuora ambionensis).Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus), Banteng (Bos javanicus), Gaur (Bos gaurus), Eld's Deer (Cervus eldii).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Hunting is only occurring at low levels, primarily for subsistence, and, although it is thought to be potentially increasing, it is not currently a severe threat to populations of large waterbirds. Perhaps the greatest threat to these populations is opportunistic collection of eggs and chicks from the nest, particularly in the case of Sarus Crane. Local people close to the international border with Laos report that poison, which is used to catch fish in permanent pools and streams, can also kill waterbirds. Dynamite fishing is also reported to be an increasing problem at seasonal pools. Another significant threat to biodiversity at the IBA is illegal logging in areas of semi-evergreen forest, particularly along watercourses. Major potential future threats to biodiversity at the IBA include human in-migration, provincial road development plans, and the agricultural expansion and increase in hunting that would accompany it.

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
Recommendations:- Measures to counter hunting and trade of wildlife must be put in place throughout the area. This should start with setting up patrolling systems in the Preah Vihear Protected Forest.- A mapping of key wetlands, key species breeding areas and human presence within the Preah Vihear Protected Forest should be carried out. This will require further surveys and should be used to inform conservation planning.- Relevant recognition of the above in Provincial and National development plans.- Large waterbird conservation should be incorporated into current initiatives to work with local communities to conserve Eld's Deer.- Establish community agreements on use of key wetlands, hunting dogs, egg collection and the practice of poison fishing. Investigation of possible livelihood security programs for key villages to promote such controls and secure support for site-based conservation.- Immigration, illegal settlement and land encroachment into the most important and critical areas of the Preah Vihear Protected Forest should be prevented.

Protected areas
Overlaps with Preah Vihear Protected Forest (156700ha)

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Chhep. Downloaded from on 26/06/2022.