Community Based Eco-tourism & Sarus Crane Conservation

CFMC members patrol the forest

Anlung Pring Sarus Crane Reserve in Kampong Trach district of Kampot Province, is located on the Western edge of the Mekong delta, in a once extensive area of seasonally inundated grassland and still remains one of the main geographical regions for Sarus Crane in the non-breeding season. The reserve was established in January 2011 by prime ministerial decree and is under management of the Forestry Administration. Poor farmers, who live around the reserving area, used to fish and hunt, disturbing the Sarus Crane. The project aims to raise their awareness regarding these unsustainable practices and provide them with alternative means for sustainable income generation.

Together with CEPF and other related agencies, Mlup Baitong has implemented the Community Livelihood Development for the Supporting Sarus Crane Conservation project funded by CEPF. The project supports Sarus Crane conservation through generating income from Community Based Eco-tourism (CBET) services and promoting Self Help Groups (SHGs) to provide micro loans for agricultural micro enterprises.

Mlup Baitong closely cooperates with authorities at all levels to provide administrative and technical support to the establishment of the CBET by facilitating farmers to form a Community Livelihood Development Management Committee (CLDMC) and a CBET Group (CBETG). The CLDMC and CBETG play an important role in managing and providing CBET services. Mlup Baitong also provides trainings on management, administration, report writing, environmental awareness, and guiding skills, and supports them to establish CBET services such as the construction of an information center, check point, toilets and parking area. We produced 1,000 leaflets and distributed them to NGOs, hotels and travel agencies to attract national and international tourists to visit the Anlung Pring Sarus Crane Reserve. Additionally, the project installed signboards to educate villagers about the importance of Sarus Crane conservation and environmental protection. CLDMC and CBETG started providing a tourist guide service for bird watching to visitors in March 2012.

So far the CBETG received 61 visitors (42 Cambodian and 16 foreign visitors), earned USD 175 of income, and ensured the safety of the Sarus Crane and its habitat. The income is used for CBETG members’ benefit, community development, maintenance of CBET facilities, and particularly for Sarus Crane conservation. Community members are satisfied with the results of the CBET development. They are committed to stopping illegal activities and to conserve the birds and their habitat in the reserve area. Mlup Baitong will provide further training to farmers who are interested in CBET services and facilitate CLDMC and CBETG to form groups of service providers, e.g. for food preparation, souvenir production, bicycle/oxcart/boat riding services etc. Mlup Baitong is also finding other resources to develop further CBET facilities in order to ensure that the community has sufficient capacity to manage and provide high quality CBET services to visitors. This will empower the CBETG to provide significant contribution to the conservation of the Sarus Crane and its habitat and alternative and sustainable income opportunities to farmers in the project area.