Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests

by Wildlife Alliance
Community rangers identifying snare hot zones
Community rangers identifying snare hot zones

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.

Community Anti Poaching Unit before a patrol
Community Anti Poaching Unit before a patrol
Unveiling the newly renovated reservoir!
Unveiling the newly renovated reservoir!

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! 

WA CEO, Suwanna Gauntlett, & H.E. Mong Reththy
WA CEO, Suwanna Gauntlett, & H.E. Mong Reththy
Empowering the next generation to live sustainably
Empowering the next generation to live sustainably

Wildlife Alliance continues to introduce innovative sustainable farming techniques to our Community Agriculture Development Project. The program aims to empower Cambodians to earn a livable and sustainable income so that they don't have to rely on slash and burn farming and wildlife poaching, practices that are detrimental to the forest.  The Community Agriculture Development Project does this through training in modern agriculture techniques and marketing, and provides farmers with subsidized tools, irrigation and seedlings. Recently, the program has introduced farmers to a technique that is self sustaining, cost effective, and is made of recycled materials- aquaponics.

Aquaponics is the practice of combining  aquatic animal farming and hydroponics in a symbiotic environment. It creates a a symbiotic ecosystem where the fish feed on the plants and then the fish’s excrement is used as nutrients to fertilize the plants. This creates a closed ecosystem, where the fish essentially feed themselves and do not require supplemental food. Additionally, the majority of the water in the aquaponics systems is recycled, making it even more sustainable and cost effective. 

At Sovanna Baitong, community members have been consistently producing gallic, basilica, eggplants, sweet pepper, and fish in the aquaponics systems.  The families not only use their aquaponics harvests for self-consumption, but can also sell their products at the local market.  To produce the best agriculture, Wildlife Alliance has also taught families to create their own organic fertilizer through worm composting and composting grass and cow manure, and making a dry compost.

Your contributions allow us to bring these innovative techniques to rural communities. We hope you continue to support Wildlife Alliance in creating sustainable livlihoods in Cambodia! 

Successful aquaponics ecosystem
Successful aquaponics ecosystem
Aquaponics system made from recycled materials
Aquaponics system made from recycled materials
Chi Phat Green Ambassadors
Chi Phat Green Ambassadors

According to a new study by Australia’s Griffith University, ecotourism can be the critical difference between the survival and the extinction of an endangered species. The study used models to evaluate the net impact of ecotourism on nine threatened species, and found conservation gains for seven of them. Now in its 9th year of operation, Wildlife Alliance continues to see significant success with our Community-Based Ecotourism (CBET) model in Chi Phat. Revenue and number of tourists have steadily increased over the years, and community members have been able to achieve long-term financial stability by operating eco-friendly guesthouses, home stays, and restaurants and working as trekking guides, boat operators, and taxi drivers. The increase in revenue has allowed the community to increase the number of forest patrols conducted by Community Rangers. Their anti-poaching efforts have led to the reduction in the number of traps laid by hunters in the forest, and has resulted in a greater observation and documentation of endangered animals and their tracks.

An added benefit of the program has been the spread of the concept of recycling and waste management. To improve the tourist experience, it became necessary for the community to address their inadequate waste management system. Local authorities and school principals showed a strong support for recycling in the community and a self-sustained youth group called The Chi Phat Green Ambassadors grew out of this interest. The Chi Phat Green Ambassadors are a local volunteer youth group made up of 8th and 9th grade students that meet with Wildlife Alliance staff to discuss and address various environmental concerns in the community. The group plays a key role in litter education and prevention, as well as clean-up initiatives in villages, along trails and at forest campsites. The group has made a significant impact in cleaning up Chi Phat, and we know they will take this experience with them as they go into high school. In the meantime, the next class is already geared up and excited to take over! Show your support by liking their Facebook page!

Thank you for making a difference for communities, forests and wildlife in Cambodia!

Chi Phat Trash Clean Up
Chi Phat Trash Clean Up
Irrigation system in the Community Orchard
Irrigation system in the Community Orchard

To help the community of Sovanna Baiton reach financial sustainability, Wildlife Alliance helped create a Community Orchard to increase income for community members through the cultivation of high-yield cash crops. The development of the Community Orchard began in 2013, and if projections bear out, the orchard should be fully supporting the community within 3-5 years.

Now in it’s third year of implementation, the communal plantation has seen sustained effective management with the implementation of field activities by the project team with support from the Agriculture Economic Development Committee of the Sovanna Baitong Agriculture Association. The 20-hectare fruit tree orchard has 3,564 trees consisting of durian, longan, rambutan, and jackfruit; most are two years old already. The fruit trees were intercropped with spinach, green spinach, radish and mustard green; also planted were 4,000 pineapples and 254 bananas.

Work at the plantation includes grass cleaning, plowing between the rows, applying fertilizer, fertigation, spraying, treating diseased sapling, and replacing dead saplings. The local people from the village received additional income to help complete this work.

Thanks to your generous support, the community of Sovanna Baitong is on its way to becoming self-sustaining. Farmers like, Nak Sok, who joined the project and gave up slash-and-burn farming in the forest now earn a steady income that has allowed them to build a new home for their large family, send their children to school and generate savings. Most importantly, the family has achieved a level of stability and financial success that they never dreamed would be possible when they lived in the forest.

To continue to make stories like this possible, make a gift today to Empower Cambodian Communities to Protect Forests

Planting cash crop trees for the community
Planting cash crop trees for the community

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Organization Information

Wildlife Alliance

Location: New York, NY - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.wildlifealliance.org
Project Leader:
Jessica Knierim
Development Associate
New York, NY United States
$5,577 raised of $15,000 goal
38 donations
$9,423 to go
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