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Empower Rural Communities and Help Protect Forests

by Wildlife Alliance
Empower Rural Communities and Help Protect Forests
Empower Rural Communities and Help Protect Forests
Empower Rural Communities and Help Protect Forests
Empower Rural Communities and Help Protect Forests
Empower Rural Communities and Help Protect Forests
Empower Rural Communities and Help Protect Forests
Empower Rural Communities and Help Protect Forests
Empower Rural Communities and Help Protect Forests
Empower Rural Communities and Help Protect Forests
Empower Rural Communities and Help Protect Forests
Empower Rural Communities and Help Protect Forests
Empower Rural Communities and Help Protect Forests
Empower Rural Communities and Help Protect Forests
Empower Rural Communities and Help Protect Forests
Empower Rural Communities and Help Protect Forests
Empower Rural Communities and Help Protect Forests
Empower Rural Communities and Help Protect Forests
Empower Rural Communities and Help Protect Forests
Empower Rural Communities and Help Protect Forests
Empower Rural Communities and Help Protect Forests

The Community-Based Ecotourism project in the village of Chi Phat provides the community with an alternative source of income so residents do not have to resort wildlife poaching or illegal logging. Although the locals have stopped poaching, the surrounding forest is still teeming with wildlife and attracts outside hunters. To protect their forest, 12 community members, along with 2 Ministry of Environment rangers and a Wildlife Alliance technical advisor created the Community Anti-Poaching Unit (CAPU). 

Below, a CAPU ranger and former poacher, reflects on his drastic career change and why he is proud to protect the forest surrounding his home.

 

My name is Ven. I’m 35 years old living in Cham Sla village, Chi Phat commune, Thmor Bang district, Koh Kong province . I have 3 children (1 daughter).

Prior, I spent my life almost 5 years as a hunter. At that time, hunting was my main job besides farming and collecting by-products from the forest. Mostly, I caught turtles, civets, and wild boars…ect. I knew it was wrong and illegal and I never ever felt good with this job as a poacher, but I need money to support my family. I felt guilty sometimes when I killed wild animals and I realized when they are gone, they will be gone forever, but I had no choice!

Later on, in 2015 I knew about CAPU and I went to meet with Mr. Cheoung Koun, (CAPU Group Leader) asked him to join with the team. I really didn’t want to work as poacher anymore. I wanted to devote myself to help community to protect wildlife and forest instead of destroy them. I thought this is the good choice for me and I want to be a good father, to be a good model for my children, I don’t want them to be hunters like me before. My family also gets happy because we no need to live in fear as before.

Before joining with the team, I put a lot of thinking due to this is not easy job. We have to trek in the deep forest carrying with heavy stuffs and confront with high risks from the animals; especially, poachers who keep us as their enemies. I knew in the news that rangers got kill during their mission in the forest; additionally, I’m worried about patrol gears and food that are not adequate for our team. However, when I started working with the team around 1 year, I’m happy that we got support from the donors such as boots, shirts, backpacks, and incentive for food. Those things really help us a lot!

Now, I’m glad that I can work as protector and really feel different from being as poacher.

I can see that during our patrol, traps and snares for wild boars, deer, or sun-bear are reduced almost 90%, but we still have problem with snares for civets. People in the village still put a lot of snares for civets and we need to work harder to control about this. We really need more support from WA, community and local authority because only us, we can’t stop them.

I would like to thanks to all donors who always support us for our work. We could not change our life to be protector without all those supports!

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New campsite at Chi Phat
New campsite at Chi Phat

The Chi Phat Community Based Eco-Tourism (CBET) program has continued to serve as a model of an effective eco-tourism site. In July, two groups of tourism communities from different parts of the country visited Chi Phat to learn how Wildlife Alliance and local authorities developed and grew the project. The CBET team was also invited to the Phnom Penh International School to give a presentation to university students on sustainable eco-tourism development. And in October, Chi Phat CBET was chosen as the best initiative of the UIAA Mountain Protection Award (MPA) 2017.

The total number of tourists who visit Chi Phat has continued to grow and the number of Cambodian visitors has already more than doubled as compared to 2016. As the number of visitors increases, Chi Phat has made an effort to increase security by installing four CCTV security cameras. To improve their offered services and accommodate the growing number of visitors, CBET purchased 20 new life jackets for boating activities. In August, 20 student volunteers from Outlook Expedition, UK, came to Chi Phat to build two new forest campsites in O’ Sampov and Damnak Khos camping areas.

The Chhay Areng CBET project is scheduled to open to tourists in January 2018, which will bring a new source of income to another local community!

Thank you for supporting the Chi Phat community and others, helping them develop and grow their sustainable sources of income! 

Chi Phat is known for outstanding hospitality
Chi Phat is known for outstanding hospitality
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Community members that patrol the forest.
Community members that patrol the forest.

The ultimate goal for every animal under our care is reintroduction back into the wild. Hundreds of animals have been rehabilitated at our Wildlife Rehabilitation Station inside the protected forest of the Southern Cardamoms. Here, the animals are kept in large forested enclosures and provided with expert care until they are ready to be released into the wild. The program has seen remarkable success, but as the forested area has become increasingly populated with native species, it has also become increasingly targeted by poachers. To address this vulnerability, community rangers from the nearby village of Chi Phat have been recruited to provide additional protection. Groups of 3-4 rangers patrol the forest for 5-6 days at a time, removing snares and deterring wildlife traffickers. Managed by the Community-Based Ecotourism Project in Chi Phat, the Community Ranger program serves as an extra layer of protection for current and future wildlife in the area, while generating additional employment opportunities for local villagers. The program has also helped villagers find value in the protection of their natural heritage, not only as it directly supports their families, but as it bolsters the ecotourism program as a whole, bringing more tourists and more income to the community.

Release is futile if we cannot ensure the animals are given the best chance at survival. At only $105 a patrol, the added protection these rangers provide is invaluable. This year, rangers have gone on 14 patrols, collected 469 snares and removed 100 meters (328 feet) of netting. We only have one team currently making patrols, however two teams in the forest would provide the critical protection needed. Make a gift to help our Community Ranger program run at full capacity. Your gift will allow us to conduct wildlife releases with more confidence and consequently expand the number of animals and variety of species being released at our Wildlife Rehabilitation Station.

Their work ensures a safer forest.
Their work ensures a safer forest.
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Trek Guide and Cook
Trek Guide and Cook

In Chi Phat, Wildlife Alliance and the community members are working together to preserve the environment while providing exciting and unique experiences for visitors. Villagers who once roamed the forest to deplete it of its environmental heritage are now employed as guides leading trekking, mountain-biking, camping, and river boat tours through the wilderness surrounding both communities. By creating stakeholders out of local residents, the impetus to keep improving the project is strong and those villagers who have joined the CBET and participated in its activities have seen their incomes grow exponentially.

In June, the Community-Based Ecotourism (CBET) project welcomed a new Project Manager, Martin Leighfield. Originally from the UK, Martin has lived and worked in Cambodia for over 16 years. He has extensive experience in the hospitality industry and has also developed a community-based tourism project on Koh Trong Island in Kratie province. He has a lot of great ideas for the project, and we are very excited to have him on the team. He has already begun implementing several new initiatives to expand the project, as well as improve the tourism experience. He has started to institute a new computerized booking system and is currently updating the CBET website. For the upcoming year, Martin has plans to improve the communication skills of the trek guides through classes, initiate a volunteer program, and create more child-friendly activities at the project.

This January, CBET signed an agreement with Andoung Teuk Transport Association to partner in transporting guests to and from Chi Phat by boat. This agreement was endorsed by the provincial Department of Transportation and both commune leaders. Previously, very few boats ran, and visitors had to hire a whole boat ($30), and it was hard to team up with others to share the cost. Arriving guests suffered confusion and harassment at Andoung Teuk, and were ill-disposed to CBET before arriving. Now, every day at 7:00am, at least one 4-passenger boat leaves Chi Phat, taking guests to catch buses at Andoung Teuk. The boat driver waits to bring guests back at about 1:00pm. The visitor center sells tickets ($10 one-way), and pays boat drivers $25 per round trip. CBET inaugurated the scheduled boat services to Andoung Teuk last month. Also, a new bar was also built in the visitor center. The bar will serve as an area where guests will receive pre-trek talks, to better inform visitors about the project and what to expect.

It is currently the peak season for tourism in Cambodia, and in January alone, CBET received 350 domestic visitors and 169 international visitors. The project earned a total income of $19,021.11, of which $13,635.08 went to villagers and $5,386.03 to the CBET community fund. New members were admitted to CBET, and there are now 250 members. These new successes and improvements would not have been possible without your support!

Stunning Views
Stunning Views
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Sophany at Community Solutions Event
Sophany at Community Solutions Event

On Tuesday, December 3rd, Sophany Touch, Chi Phat’s Community Development Officer, was selected to present his project on Zero Waste Community-Based Ecotourism at the Community Solutions event in Washington D.C. Sophany was one of 12 finalists, peer-selected from 58 projects that were submitted to the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX). His proposed project focuses on implementing a zero waste strategy at Wildlife Alliance’s Community-Based Ecotourism project in Chi Phat. This project focuses on diverting waste from Chi Phat’s landfills and promoting the recycling and reusing of materials to community members and local schools. The results are a litter free community, a reduction of methane into the atmosphere, an increase in tourism and economic benefits to the community, and ultimately conservation of the rainforest and wildlife.

Sophany Touch, who has worked with Wildlife Alliance since 2009, was invited to participate as a community leader in the 2013 Community Solutions program. This program is implemented by the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) and funded by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. It is a professional development program that matches 58 global leaders with 55 American organizations to “improve their capacity for local community development and serve as ambassadors for increased mutual understanding.” Sophany partnered with Citizens’ Environmental Coalition in Houston, TX where he met with organizations involved in ecotourism, forestry, waste management and green school initiatives and learned about recycling markets, composting and community gardens.

We would like to congratulate Sophany on his excellent work! You can help help him realize his goals of zero waste at Chi Phat by making a gift today!

Sophany giving his presentation on zero waste
Sophany giving his presentation on zero waste
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Organization Information

Wildlife Alliance

Location: New York, NY - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Jessica Knierim
Development Associate
New York, NY United States

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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