Despite Cambodia’s tourism industry being devastated by COVID-19, support for and efforts towards wildlife conservation have continued – and strengthened – during the pandemic. By continuing to support organic and wildlife-friendly rice production and community-based ecotourism projects, Cambodia’s government hopes to create more jobs, improve the livelihoods of locals in which the projects are located, and conserve Cambodia’s natural and cultural heritage in and around Cambodia’s protected areas.
In June the Ministry of Environment secretary of state and spokesman led a group of journalists, government officials, NGO and non-profit organisation employees to visit the Kulen Promtep and Chheb wildlife sanctuaries in Preah Vihear province to inspect a conservation project geared towards saving wild animals and promoting livelihoods. More than 20 journalists from 13 institutions and officials from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the USAID Greening Prey Lang Project (USAID GLP) also visited a Bengal Florican Conservation Area located in Kampong Thom and Siem Reap provinces, where the project focuses on the conservation of the endangered giant ibis. Methods of conservation include offering locals alternatives such as farming organic rice instead of cutting down forests and hunting animals for income.
During the visit to the Bengal Florican Conservation Area, the delegation participated in a signing ceremony of a grant extension provided by USAID GPL to Sansom Mlup Prey (SMP), a local sustainable agriculture organisation which promotes wildlife-friendly agriculture in communities living in and around Cambodia’s protected areas. The USAID GPL project is a five-year programme that promotes resilient, low-emission development and inclusive sustainable management in the Prey Lang Extended Landscape through a focus on communities, conservation, and improved governance.