Veun Sai-Siem Pang National Park
One of Southeast Asia’s last pristine forests
Home to some of the last populations of giant ibis, sun bears and clouded leopards, Veun Sai-Siem Pang National Park is also essential to local people. It provides food, fuelwood, medicinal plants and fresh water, and it supports the economy through ecotourism, agriculture and freshwater fishing.
But rapid deforestation, degradation and poaching are putting the forest’s critically endangered species — and the livelihoods of some of Cambodia’s poorest people — at risk.
Conservation International (CI) has worked in the Veun Sai-Siem Pang region since 2009 to help protect nature for the benefit of people. The organization helped secure legal protection for the 57,500-hectare (136,000-acre) Veun Sai-Siem Pang National Park, declared in 2016. Conservation International supports teams of rangers from the government and communities who patrol the forest, alert officials to illegal logging, and educate communities on why it is in their interest to keep the forest intact. After the 2010 discovery of a new species of gibbon in the area — the northern yellow-cheeked crested gibbon — Conservation International researchers habituated a small population of the primate and worked with the local community to develop an ecotourism project, providing the apes a sanctuary in the trees while also offering families a more secure, sustainable income source.
Veun Sai-Siem Pang may be the only place in the world where tourists can regularly witness the elusive northern yellow-cheeked crested gibbon in the wild. Conservation International supports local nonprofit organizations and the local community to promote gibbon-viewing to ecotourists as a forest-friendly alternative livelihood to logging. Local community members are able to supplement their incomes by working as wildlife guides, cooks, transport providers and homestay hosts. Tourism income is doubling annually, directly supporting community livelihoods. Profits have contributed to a local school, built a bridge and enabled community members to take low-interest loans to start small businesses.
Every year, Conservation International sponsors graduate student research on the primate populations in Veun Sai-Siem Pang National Park. This research provides better understanding of behavioral ecology, feeding patterns, and the impacts of logging on primates, and helps monitor the health of the population as well as the success of enforcement efforts. We also cooperate with other national and international institutions to conduct biodiversity and social economic surveys at the area.
Training rangers and local researchers
Conservation International provides training to Cambodia’s Ministry of Environment rangers on the best practices for patrolling protected areas and conducting biodiversity surveys, helping them to use their limited resources as efficiently as possible to protect primates and their forest homes. This training enables rangers to easily collect information during their patrols and use it to target areas facing the greatest threat from illegal logging and poaching. We also train local people to be involved in biodiversity research, including using camera traps for wildlife monitoring.
Cambodia in the News
© CI/photo by Ashton Jones
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