Wildlife Alliance’s mobile environmental education unit, the Kouprey Express (KE), has been growing over the past year by creating some important partnerships both within and outside of the organization. KE’s mandate is to work with schools and communities in Koh Kong Province, the hub of Wildlife Alliance’s field activities, to teach about wildlife and habitat conservation and sustainability in all aspects of life. However, limiting their activities to just one province has meant that their lessons have not been able to reach countrywide. Recently, the KE has been increasing its outreach to other parts of the country by partnering with other NGOs – to great acclaim. The team collaborated with organizations such as New Hope for Orphans, Community Home Care for Women, and the National Borei (Orphanage) for Infants and Children to conduct field trips to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center for these organization’s constituents. All of these NGOs operate in various provinces throughout the country, some of which are known wildlife trafficking hubs. These trips are all the more vital based on that knowledge and they have been very successful in opening the eyes of participants to the plight of Cambodia’s wildlife.
One trip in particular was notable for its ability to reach rural villagers who have almost no opportunity to learn about the wildlife and forest destruction that is directly affecting them. The KE team collaborated with Poh Kao, an organization working to protect wildlife in remote Rattanakiri Province in the northeast, to bring 20 rural villagers to see wildlife at the rescue center. This was a very important trip because these villagers, most of whom are ethnic minorities, live entirely in the forest near the Lao border and wildlife trafficking and forest destruction is having a devastating effect on their lives, as they depend on the forest for sustenance. These participants are from villages so remote that many of them had never seen a car before this trip. One woman and her son walked 40 kilometers through the forest to get to the nearest village so they could join the trip. During this visit to PTWRC, the KE team had the children draw wildlife they have seen personally around their homes and many of them drew gibbons. The community members now know the wildlife rescue hotline and excellent collaboration was established between Wildlife Alliance and Poh Kao with the aim of protection of all wildlife.
Furthermore, the KE team has been collaborating with Wildlife Alliance’s own Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team (WRRT) to increase the effectiveness of their message. One of KE’s program activities is to produce Community Night Shows in various villages throughout Koh Kong to reach community members outside of the classroom. In March, KE collaborated with the WRRT to put on a special Community Night Show. The WRRT Project Manager, one Military Police officer, and a Forestry Administration officer, gave a presentation and spoke to the crowds, which numbered around 500, about the urgency of wildlife and forest conservation and the need to work together to stop illegal wildlife trafficking. This provided an important opportunity for community members to understand that the WRRT is there to help them and to also reduce the understandable fear many Cambodians have of government and law enforcement officials. The WRRT presentation was followed by a slideshow highlighting threats to wildlife and the urgent need to protect them. This particular night show was especially well-attended and appreciated and, depending on the operations schedule of the WRRT, the KE will continue to collaborate with them on community outreach efforts. To help the Kouprey Express team as they extend their efforts countrywide, visit our donation page and choose Kouprey Express from the dropdown menu.