Friday the 23th September 2016, Kampong Trach, Kampot province. Kampot lies in the south of Cambodia and offers beautiful landscapes with untouched nature. Big mountains can be found everywhere, but at the same time, endless lowlands reach up to the horizon. It is important to conserve this piece of ecosystem and to prevent its destruction.
The Environment and Livelihood Improvement at Sarus Crane Reserve (ELISCR) project as well as the Environmental Education for Conservation of Sarus Crane in Cambodia (EEC-SCC) project came to an end. After three years of working together, the projects finished this year. The staff of Mlup Baitong taught the community how to protect the surrounding wetlands and to conserve the biodiversity. They talked about waste management and paying attention to the garbage which gets into the environment. It has bad impacts on it, as for example plastic parts can get into the organisms of animals and affect their health. Pollution is a big issue and was discussed with the community, thus solutions were found and the village as well as the wetlands were cleaned.
Children had the opportunity to read about forests and animals in books and could apply their newly-acquired knowledge to their situation. But the main focus was on the Sarus Crane, the tallest flying bird in the world. Its population is decreasing dramatically and in many areas it is already extinct, so it is important to keep an eye on the species. With trainings on farming methods, in which the farmers were taught not to use pesticides, the Sarus Cranes get the chance to stay around Anlung Pring during the dry season. Because of the organic plants, the birds can feed their offspring more easily and can procreate themselves properly.
During the ceremony, many speeches were held. Teachers, students and the staff of Mlup Baitong celebrated the goals they achieved together. Children sat in the front and you could see it in their eyes that they appreciated the last three years. Afterwards, everybody had the chance to visit a small exhibition in a school building that the students had prepared. Posters were laid out and a PowerPoint-presentation with explanations and pictures was held. Moreover, you could visit an organic garden and have a look at the first homestay for tourists. The Community Based Eco-Tourism (CBET) will hopefully develop further in the next years, but the first steps have now already been made. The day ended with getting together again to have a delicious lunch, while the conversations were mostly about the ending project. A staff member told me, he wished for the project never to come to an end. He loved his work very much and said that the time ran too fast.
I had a really pensive feeling while I attended the ceremony and visited the houses of the community. Many things have changed and more things will develop in the future.
by Elisabeth Keuten, volunteer