It has been announced that Sam Veasna Center for Wildlife Conservation (SVC) is one of just 13 finalists up for the 2016 World Responsible Tourism Awards at the World Travel Market in London in November 2016, putting Cambodia firmly on the global map for bird and wildlife ecotourism.
Hanuman has worked with SVC for more than a decade now, sending visitors to Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary, Ang Trapeang Thmor, Tmatboey and new wildlife sites such as Seima Protected Forest in Mondulkiri. Hanuman congratulates SVC on this nomination and looks forward to a continued close relationship in promoting the wildlife of Cambodia as a sustainable model to flora and fauna in the kingdom.
SVC is entered for the ‘Best Contribution to Wildlife Conservation’ award, highlighting the key role that ecotourism can have in preserving wildlife and habitats in Cambodia and around the world.
SVC has successfully made it through the most rigorous tourism Awards judging process and is now in contention to be globally awarded for its contribution to wildlife conservation. Innovation, inspiration and repeatable models were key criteria for this year’s finalists and SVC’s unique approach, working closely with WCS Cambodia, of conservation through community based ecotourism has been celebrated for the clear conservation success it has shown.
Cambodia is home to unique habitats and species that have all but vanished across Southeast Asia and has some of the world’s most threatened birds and wildlife, including critically endangered species such as Giant Ibis, 3 vulture species, numerous primates, Asian Elephants and the emblematic Eld’s Deer. Species that can only be seen with SVC. By taking birding and wildlife safaris throughout Cambodia and working closely with rural and indigenous communities in the most vulnerable habitats, SVC and conservation partner the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) have been able to measure the stabilisation and growth of critically endangered species, and a reduction in deforestation. The SVC model for eco-tourism both directly incentivizes conservation in communities by paying a fee to the community when certain wildlife are seen, as well as training and employing community members as guides and ecotourism service providers.
SVC Director, Johnny Orn says: “Being recognised in this way puts Cambodia on the world map for its incredible birding and wildlife tourism – not something Cambodia is traditionally famous for. It also highlights the importance of ecotourism in Cambodia and the success for conservation achieved through responsible tourism. The more tourists who come to see our wildlife in a responsible way, the more of that wildlife that can be protected, and the more communities can directly benefit.”
Dr Ross Sinclair, WCS’s Country Director says: “Being a finalist in the 2016 World Responsible Tourism Awards is recognition of the quality and impact of SVC’s ecotourism products. By partnering with a conservation NGO like WCS to ensure there are conservation outcomes, and working with communities to ensure livelihood benefits, SVC are a world class example of responsible tourism.”
Sam Veasna Centre is a Cambodian wildlife conservation NGO sustaining Cambodia’s wildlife and communities through ecotourism, running wildlife viewing trips with exclusive access to Wildlife Conservation Society sites across Cambodia. The goal is to provide an alternative sustainable livelihood from ecotourism for the local communities at priority sites for conservation. In return for the income and employment received they are asked to sign no hunting and land use agreements, which are monitored by Ministries of Environment and Forestry patrol teams advised by WCS. SVC now works with 8 communities around the country.
The funds generated from ecotourism go back into community, conservation projects and ecotourism development creating a ‘local environmentally sustainable economy’. SVC’s unique collaborative approach has been held up by the Government of Cambodia as a model of successful community based ecotourism in protected areas which can be replicated across the country.
By investing in communities SVC has reduced, and in some cases, reversed species and habitat degradation by providing a sustainable livelihood option that reduces rural poverty, and SVC’s Environmental Education Training (EET) is teaching the next generation of Cambodians about the importance of conservation.