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Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests

by Wildlife Alliance
Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests
Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests
Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests
Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests
Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests
Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests
Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests
Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests
Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests
Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests
Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests
Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests
Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests
Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests
Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests
Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests
Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests
Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests
Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests
Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests
Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests
Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests
Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests
Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests
Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests
Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests
Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests
Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests
Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests
Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests
CAPU rangers remove a civet snare
CAPU rangers remove a civet snare

One of the most significant threats to the important wildlife of the Cardamom Rainforest is poaching using snares by commercial hunters coming from outside the region. Wire snares are easy to make and conceal but have a devasting impact on wildlife as they are non-selective and able to kill or disable a wide variety of species. Though snares are often set for wild pigs, to service the illegal wildlife meat trade in urban restaurants, they kill or maim many non-target species including elephants, Asian wild dogs, and bears. Many snared animals are simply left to die and rot in the forest. Recent camera-trapping has shown that more than half of the elephant calves in the landscape show signs of snare injuries to their trunks or legs.

Members of the Chi Phat and Areng Valley communities have stepped up to end this concern through creating Community Anti-Poaching Units and implementing targeted snare-removal patrols. The community rangers operate in villages where Wildlife Alliance is supporting Community-Based Ecotourism (CBET) as this is where communities see a direct financial benefit, through tourist visitors, in safeguarding their wildlife and biodiversity. As such their motivation to support conservation efforts, and patrol to remove snares, is high. Before these villages became CBET programs, they were the centers of illegal activity, particularly poaching and wildlife trade. 

The community rangers are trained on how to patrol efficiently and effectively and how to detect and remove snares. Each unit patrols an area of approximately 10-km radius that they identify as facing high snare threats and are key areas for elephants. CAPU team members will also be trained on basic animal welfare and handling so any live animals found in snares can be safely transferred to the Wildlife Alliance managed Wildlife Release Station on the edge of the Cardamom Rainforest Landscape. The empowerment of these communities has transformed them from poaching hotspots to wildlife guardians.

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Relentless heavy rains last month caused massive flooding throughout much of western Cambodia. The village of Chi Phat, which Wildlife Alliance helps support through a community-based ecotourism program, was completely submerged in water, affecting 200 families. Wildlife Alliance Rangers took rice and other provisions to the affected families, many of which had to be delivered by boat. The rangers also checked on the welfare of the community members and transported an individual to the hospital because his boat was broken, leaving him stranded in his home.

As the flood waters recede, Wildlife Alliance continued to monitor the situation and provide support to communities as needed. Although Wildlife Alliance is primarily a conservation organization, we recognize that the wellbeing and support of the community members who live in the areas we protect is critical to our success. That is why Wildlife Alliance helped Chi Phat to develop and maintain an ecotourism program for 17 years and will continue to provide emergency relief.

Thank you for helping us support this community and empower them to develop sustainable livelihoods. To help support our emergency relief efforts and directly support the affected families, please consider making another donation today.

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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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Welcome to Stung Areng Community
Welcome to Stung Areng Community

After two years of preparation, the Stung Areng Community-Based Ecotourism (CBET) project has opened its doors for business! Families in eight villages have begun welcoming local and foreign visitors to their homes and private bungalows. Through this ecotourism venture, former hunters and loggers will have an alternative and sustainable income, that will not only alleviate forest crimes in the area but will also provide incentive for locals to keep the landscape pristine.

This ecotourism model has proven to be successful in the village of Chi Phat, which Wildlife Alliance helped to open and has been supporting for over a decade. Since 2007, slash and burn farming in and around Chi Phat has been mitigated and the community that was once rife with poaching now has an active Community Anti-Poaching Unit. To replicate this success in Stung Areng, Wildlife Alliance has provided the resources and training to teach people new skills such as accounting, computer literacy and hospitality.

The Areng Valley is situated within dense forest, home to various animal species including elephants, gibbons, Siamese crocodiles, Bengal slow loris, many bird species, and other endangered animals that tourists may have the opportunity to observe. Guests can also enjoy the surrounding waterfalls, rapids, caves, and mountains through unforgettable activities such as trekking, cycling, swimming, rock climbing, camping, bird watching and kayaking. For those looking for a cultural experience, guests can spend time in Areng Valley learning how to produce rice wine, enjoying traditional music, observing local daily livelihood and cultural events, and experiencing local foods. 

The project will be community run with technical and financial support from Wildlife Alliance. By empowering Stung Areng community members with new skills and alternative sources of income, we aim to mitigate deforestation and poaching in the heart of the Cardamom Mountains. Thank you for supporting our efforts to empower communities to protect their natural heritage. For more information about the newest CBET project, visit their facebook page: www.facebook.com/arengecotourism.

Visitors can enjoy countless natural attractions
Visitors can enjoy countless natural attractions
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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 community rangers protect the forest
Chi Phat community rangers protect the forest
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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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