Recognition of Cardamom Ecotourism Offerings

Representatives of our Chi Phat Community-Based Ecotourism program (CBET) are currently 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. The ASEAN CBT Standard award will be presented to Chi Phat on Friday, January 20th. 

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.

To support ecotourism and sustainable development in rural Cambodia, visit our donation page and choose the Community-Based Ecotourism fund. You can also visit the multi-award winning ecotourism site yourself! Visit the Chi Phat website to start planning your trip.

Good News for Elephants: China Bans Ivory Trade

On the heels of one of Cambodia’s biggest ivory busts in history, China recently announced that it will ban the sale of ivory by the end of 2017. Following years of international pressure, this announcement will shut down the largest ivory market in the world. Estimates suggest that at least 50 to 70 percent of smuggled ivory ends up in China where it is legally sold in showrooms. 

This news is the biggest sign of hope for the iconic African elephant since the poaching crisis began. In just ten years, more than 100,000 elephants have been killed in order to supply the demand for ivory, largely driven by China. These poaching rates have been responsible for driving elephants to the edge of extinction. 

While Cambodia is not a major ivory market, its role as a transit country has contributed to illegal ivory trafficking. On December 16, Cambodia intercepted a shipment of 1.3 metric tons of ivory destined for China. The smuggled animal parts were hidden in the midst of rare timber logs shipped from Mozambique. In total, Cambodian Customs officers, Wildlife Alliance, and the U.S. Embassy discovered 640 elephant tusks and pieces, 10 cheetah skulls and 82 kilograms of bones, and 137 kilograms of pangolin scales. 

This is Cambodia’s 19th bust of African ivory or rhino horn since 2014. In the past, Cambodia has been known as an easy transit country of illicit goods en-route to China through porous borders. However, increased law enforcement is changing Cambodia’s reputation among international smugglers. The high number of ivory and rhino horn seizures in recent years is evidence of greater attention by Cambodian law enforcement to intercepting illegal wildlife smuggled by sea, air and land. 

While China’s ban on the sale of ivory is encouraging, this policy will only be effective if it is properly enforced. Help the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team continue to work with custom officials to intercept more ivory destined for China by making a donation today. 

Community Rangers Save Wildlife in their Village

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.   

To help our Community Ranger program run at full capacity, visit our donation page and select Community-Based Ecotourism from the dropdown menu. 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. It will also help ensure that more civets are kept safe from coffee production and that Chi Phat community members are provided with sustainable alternative livelihoods.

Prepare Our Otters for Return to the Wild—Help Build a Waterfall!

© Peter Yuen

© Peter Yuen

Home to four families of smooth coated otters and the only captive hairy nosed otter in the world, Wildlife Alliance’s Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center is otter heaven! These naturally curious and playful animals require a lot of enrichment to keep them as stimulated as they would be in the wild. Our keepers are constantly coming up with new enrichment techniques, including building hammocks, floating rafts, rope balls, and scattering food on land and providing live fish in the ponds. These rescued otters are waiting until we can find suitable protected habitat in order to be released into the wild. Until then, our dedicated keepers will continue to create innovative enrichment methods to keep the otters happy. We would like to build a waterfall feature for our strongest swimmers to simulate a stream environment and make hunting a little more challenging. Fishing in the waterfall will not only keep them stimulated and make playtime even more fun, but it will also better prepare the otters for the wild should a release site become available! The waterfall will cost $3,000, and will ensure the otters live a happy and healthy life. Help us build a waterfall for our rescued otters by making a donation