updated 4/27/2006 9:15:34 PM ET 2006-04-28T01:15:34

A flock of one of the world’s most endangered birds — the white-shouldered ibis — has been discovered in a remote province in northeast Cambodia, a conservationist said Monday.

A flock of between 20 and 30 white-shouldered ibis, a critically endangered species with only 250 existing in the wild, was found in a protected wetland in Stung Treng province, said ecological adviser Kong Kimsreng of the Mekong Wetland Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use project.

The flock was first found during a survey last November in the province, 150 miles northeast of Phnom Penh.

Their presence was confirmed in a follow-up in March, Kong Kimsreng said.

The flock did not appear to have fewer birds in the second survey, but he warned that local practices pose a risk to its survival.

“The main threat to the white-shouldered ibis is chick- and egg-collecting by local people,” Kong Kimsreng said. “They don’t understand that this is an important bird, that this is a rare bird in the world. They collect the chicks to keep as pets... to make their house nice.”

Although it is illegal to catch the bird, wildlife protection laws are rarely enforced, he said.

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