Soulful tunes from the canopy
Read the full story here or below. See PDF version here: Soulful Tunes from the Canopy
Published in The Phnom Penh Post’s 7 Days Magazine, June, 2012.
It is 5am and the first signs of light can be seen through the jungle canopy. The gibbons are awake. Uncurling long limbs from sleeping positions they start singing to the dawn before swinging soulfully through the trees. With intelligent eyes and thoughtful mannerisms they move in harmony with the forest. Until now there has not been an avenue to view these willowy primates. What has changed? Cambodia’s first gibbon eco-tourism venture has been established.
A ranger and research outpost in Veun Sai-Siem Pang Conservation Area, which adjoins Virachey National Park in Ratanakkiri province, will be base camp for adventurous travellers hoping to spot the humble creatures. The outpost was established in 2009 as part of a broader aim to document biodiversity values and engage local communities through development initiatives. By establishing eco-tourism projects, local residents are given jobs and incentives to protect their environment. As Tourism Minister Thong Khon has described eco-tourism, it combines “economy and ecology”.
Gibbon Spotting Cambodia is a joint venture between tour companies DutchCo Trekking Cambodia, See Cambodia Differently and village residents represented by community-based eco-tourism management committees. These committees were set up by Conservation International. CI also provides funding to and works in partnership with the Cambodian Forestry Administration to protect this area. As well as an eco-tourism site and CI research hub, the outpost is a launching point for patrols to prevent crimes in the conservation area, like wildlife poaching or logging.