The IBA is located to the south of Kampong Thom town, within the inundation zone of Tonle Sap Lake. The IBA comprises and one of the largest remnant tracts of seasonally inundated grassland within the Tonle Sap floodplain, variably influenced on its eastern and northern fringes by deepwater rice. This habitat is mixed with scattered, but often extensive, areas of dense scrub, lotus swamps, sedge beds, and, in the dry season, numerous small to medium-sized ponds. At the height of the wet season (August-October), the whole IBA is inundated. Parts of the IBA lie within Tonle Sap Multiple Use Area, designated under the 1993 Royal Decree on Protected Areas, and Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve.The IBA is a very important breeding site for Bengal Florican Houbaropsis bengalensis during the dry season (December to May). In the wet season (May to July), a number of non-breeding waterbirds visit the site, including adjutants Leptoptilos spp., Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala and Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans. In addition, the IBA supports a substantial wintering population of Manchurian Reed Warbler Acrocephalus tangorum, as well as small numbers of wintering Greater Spotted and Imperial Eagles Aquila clanga and A. heliaca. In addition, the largest flock of White-shouldered Ibis Pseudibis davisoni recorded in Cambodia in recent decades was observed here in 1999.
Other regionally significant birds species occur in the site such as Asian Openbill, Wooly -necked Stork, Brahminy Kite, Blak-shouldered Kite,Creasted Serpent Eagle, Grey -headed Fish-Eagle, Sport-billed Duck and Comb Duck.
Although there is no permanent human settlement within the seasonally inundated area, a number of villages and associated rice paddies are situated at the limit of the inundation zone. During the dry season, as floodwaters recede, large numbers of people move into the inundation zone, from a radius of over 50 km away, to fish, harvest grasses, gather brushwood and wetland plants, and graze domestic livestock in herds that can number several hundred animals. This causes high levels of disturbance throughout large areas of the IBA. Deepwater rice is cultivated annually in the eastern and northern parts of the IBA. During this period, much of the area is ploughed by tractor, which presents a serious threat to nesting Bengal Floricans, in the form of disturbance and nest destruction. A potential future threat is further conversion of grassland areas to deepwater rice cultivation.Another major threat to biodiversity at the IBA is hunting for both food and trade, which affects all waterbirds in the area, and also the Bengal Florican. Hunting has almost certainly accounted for a major decline in florican numbers in the recent past. However, conservation interventions over the last two years appear to have significantly reduced hunting levels in the IBA.
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
Recommendations The current law enforcement initiative focused on the hunting and trade of key species, particularly Bengal Floricans and large waterbirds should be expanded throughout the area.- The current community awareness initiative begun in Krous Kraom and adjacent areas should be expanded throughout the IBA.- Further research should be carried out on the relative ecological importance of seasonally flooded grassland and deep water rice areas, particularly to the conservation of Bengal Florican.- Any further agricultural development, particularly deep water rice expansion, should not be undertaken without a full environmental impact assessment and a proper understanding, based on the above, of conversion of the semi-natural ecosystems (upon which the floricans may be reliant) to agriculture.
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Stung Sen / Santuk / Baray. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 22/01/2022.