Life was tough – there were no roads or electricity, and access to education was limited, so people turned to the forest for survival. Every year, huge swathes of precious rainforest were burned to make way for farms in a process known as slash and burn agriculture. Snares were set to catch animals big and small for food and the illegal wildlife trade. Things got so dire for the forest and wildlife that Chi Phat earned the name the “circle of death”.
Seeing both the environmental tragedy and great potential of Chi Phat, Wildlife Alliance partnered with the community with the support of the local authority, and the Chi Phat CBET was born. From that day forward, everything changed. Suddenly, 300 families had jobs in tourism as hosts, guides, cooks, drivers and more!
Now, instead of looking to the forest for survival, people in Chi Phat see the forests and wildlife as essential assets for tourism. Today in Chi Phat, there is zero slash and burn. Without the Chi Phat CBET, coupled with the Cardamom Forest protection ranger patrolling, much of this magnificent dense rainforest landscape would have been lost.
If you have time, we recommend spending a night or two in Chi Phat before or after your stay at the Wildlife Release Station.