Recognition of Cardamom Community-Based Ecotourism Program
By Jess Knierim | Development Associate
Representatives of our Chi Phat Community-Based Ecotourism program (CBET) recently traveled at the 2017 ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Tourism Forum to receive an award for their program. For the first time, ASEAN is honoring outstanding tourism communities, measured against ASEAN’s Community Based Tourism (CBT) standards. In order to meet these standards, programs must present the community’s social, historical, and natural assets and maintain a high standard of accommodation, safety, and hygiene.
Wildlife Alliance has helped the community of Chi Phat since 2007 to develop nature-based ecotourism in the Cardamom Mountain Range, one of Asia’s last untouched rainforests. A stronghold for Asian elephants and home to some of the world’s most endangered and rare wildlife, the Cardamoms have become an international destination for nature trekking and adventure. Wildlife Alliance supported the development of 300 kilometers of forest trails and 5 night camps, purchase of mountain bikes and kayaks, retrofitting of 12 homestays and 11 guesthouses, and implementation of a waste management system. We provided training in computer literacy, small business management, and hospitality. Chi Phat officially opened for tourism in 2008 and earns revenues based on a diversified service delivery system. Wildlife Alliance continues to provide international marketing and on-the-job training.Wildlife Alliance has been instrumental in helping communities, like Chi Phat, develop sustainable and eco-friendly jobs through sustainable agriculture, reforestation, community-based ecotourism, and community anti-poaching units. Through these programs we have converted ex-poachers and slash-and-burn farmers into land stewards.
Thank you for helping us create sustainable, eco-friendly jobs that allow people to utilize the forests surrounding their communities in a positive way!
The ultimate goal for every animal in 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 for release. The program has seen remarkable success, but as the forested area has harbored more wildlife, it has become increasingly attractive to poachers.
In order to prevent poaching, community rangers are recruited from the nearby village of Chi Phat. Groups of five (one local police officer and four local men) patrol the forest for approximately five days at a time, removing snares and deterring wildlife traffickers and loggers. 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 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.
In recent months, the community rangers have been working hard to stop civet hunting in Chi Phat and around the Wildlife Rehabilitation Station. Selling civets abroad has become a lucrative trade for locals because they can sell civets for $100 each. The high price on civets is because they are used to make the world’s most expensive coffee, Kopi Luwak. The civets are kept in cramped cages and are fed exclusively coffee cherries. The digested coffee excrement is then used to make the expensive brew. While villagers from Chi Phat do hunt the forests for civets, most of the hunters come from neighboring villages and bring trained dogs to catch the civets. Over the course of four months, the community rangers patrolled both days and nights and removed 360 civet snares. The Chi Phat community has also decided to warn people against travelling into Chi Phat with dogs and have placed a police officer at the ferry crossing point to check that people travelling in and out of Chi Phat are not transporting civets.
Thank you for supporting our sustainable development programs. Your gift helps 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. It also helps ensure that more civets are kept safe from coffee production and that Chi Phat community members are provided with sustainable alternative livelihoods.
Until recently when the rains finally returned, the villagers of Sovanna Baitong, home of Wildlife Alliance’s Community Agriculture Development Project, have not had water in their reservoir since March due to Cambodia’s worst drought in 50 years. Thankfully, the tides turned in late July when Mong Reththy Group and Wildlife Alliance revealed a new and improved reservoir in the village. The two groups held a ribbon cutting ceremony on July 29th to reveal the upgraded facilities, which was attended by local authorities and 150 villagers.
With the reservoir completely dry for the first time, His Excellency Oknha Mong Reththy came to the rescue of the families in Sovanna Baitong by helping Wildlife Alliance retrofit the water reservoir. In addition to deepening the reservoir, a vital spill gate was also added. Mong Reththy also helped complete the construction of a new bridge and upgrade the 2.5 km access road. The businessman felt a personal responsibility to help the village, and stressed the importance of giving back to local communities and contributing to Cambodia’s rural development. Suwanna Gauntlett, Wildlife Alliance’s founder and CEO agreed, noting that “this partnership will help boost economic development and reduce poverty in the Southwestern region.”
As there is no foreseeable end to climate change, the people of Sovanna Baitong can expect more droughts in their future. Now, with the ability to store rainwater during the wet season, they will be better equipped to deal with the changing weather patterns and will be less affected by drought.
Thank you for helping us provide sustainable livlihoods to communities in rural Cambodia!
Project reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you can recieve an email when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports without donating.