Approximately 8,500 miles (13,700 km) from where I sit, people in small villages in the Prek Toal region of Cambodia, located on the northwest shore of Tonle Sap Lake (map here), are restoring the fortunes of eight species of waterbirds, all but one of which are globally threatened.
(A bit of background on the region: Tonle Sap is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and a UN-designated Biosphere Reserve. BirdLife International lists Prek Toal as an Important Bird Area. And the Sam Veasna Center for Wildlife Conservation is a local hub for ecotourism.)
The bird populations are increasing because former poachers are being employed as rangers. Species that have benefited include the world's rarest stork, the Greater Adjutant (at right in the photo above), and the Spot-billed Pelican (the two birds at left). But we'll get back to the individual species in a minute.
The colonies first came to the attention of conservationists in the mid-1990s. At that time, about 70 local people were collecting eggs and chicks from the colonies. "The eggs and chicks were sold locally in the village for food and were sold for trade to wealthier individuals in towns," says Tom Clements of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Cambodia Program.