A Wildlife Alliance project is competing with entrants from five other countries for a $26,000 prize to be used in community anti-poaching patrols and wildlife release missions in the Cardamom Mountains.
Emma Pollard, a manager at Wildlife Alliance, said the project, titled “Sustainable livelihoods and tourism-Cambodia”, is up for the prize from the European Outdoor Conservation Association.
If it wins the cash, the funding will aid work in Koh Kong province’s Cardamom National Park, the largest, oldest and most intact habitat in the region.
The park is home to globally threatened flora and fauna, mammal species including Asian elephants, Sunda pangolins, pileated gibbons, sun bears, clouded leopards and smooth-coated otters.
A forest of this size contributes to global climate regulation, regionally regulating rainfall for the entire west of Cambodia and producing 22 major rivers which provide water and resources to 3,750 communities across eight provinces, Ms Pollard noted.
“Its protection is essential to conservation in Cambodia,” she said.
Wildlife Alliance has been working with the Chi Phat community in Koh Kong since 2007 to create sustainable livelihoods as a way to reduce the need to exploit or rely on natural resources.
Success of the Community-Based Eco-Tourism (CBET) project relies on protection of the forest and wildlife to attract visitors, said Ms Pollard.
“The CBET project supports around 340 families, employing former hunters and loggers as guides, drivers, cooks, support staff, and community rangers. European Outdoor Conservation Association funding would support the anti-poaching patrols, responsible for protecting the forest, wildlife and visitors,” she said.
Ms Pollard added that Wildlife Alliance provides a holistic response to the illegal wildlife and timber trades within Cambodia.
“We have wildlife rescue, care, rehabilitation, release and breeding programmes, supported by forest zoning, protection and reforestation to ensure suitable safe habitats remain for wildlife, while working with communities and children to foster conservation ethics,” she said.