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Situated in Southwest Cambodia, the Cardamom Mountain Range is home to one of the planet’s 35 internationally recognized biodiversity hotspots. Although the area hosts a fantastic wealth of flora and fauna, much of its wildlife is in danger. In total, 27 species found in the Cardamom Range are imperiled with extinction, including Asian Elephants and Indochinese Tigers.
Populations of these species are rapidly declining as a result of human encroachment. Threats are primarily due to industrial development, most notably through the expansion of commercial plantations and logging and mining operations. The southern portion of the range, which remains unprotected, is at particular risk of destruction from these dangers.
To protect the region’s wildlife, Rainforest Trust has teamed with Wildlife Alliance to create the Southern Cardamom National Park. The 1,014,100-acre protected area will serve as a critical wildlife corridor and close a significant gap within the Cardamom Range’s existing protected area network.
Koh Kong Province, Cambodia
Asian Elephant (EN), Indochinese Tiger (EN), Siamese Crocodile (CR), Pileated Gibbon (EN), Royal Turtle (CR)
Industrial development, logging, illegal sale of state forest
Create Southern Cardamom National Park
Price Per Acre
With over 2,000 undescribed plants discovered thus far, the Cardamoms Range is an important repository of undiscovered species. As a result, discoveries of new wildlife and plant species regularly occur within its boundaries.
For the 250 Asian Elephants still found in Cambodia, the Cardamom Range provides essential habitat for survival. The mountains contain one of Asia’s last seven remaining elephant corridors, and 80 percent of the elephants found within the ‘Southwest Elephant Corridor’ reside in the Cardamoms. The range is also thought to hold the largest non-fragmented Indochinese Tiger habitat in the region and as many as 30 of these rare big cats are estimated to survive in the mountains. The protection of Indochinese Tigers in the Cardamoms is integral to the survival of the species as a whole due to its tiny worldwide population. Between 2000 and 2010, Indochinese Tiger numbers dropped by 70 percent and it is estimated that only 350 individuals remain in the wild. The proposed reserve also provides habitat for all of the near-extinct Royal Turtle population and 75 percent of all remaining Siamese Crocodiles.
Lacking protection, the southern extension of the Cardamom Range is extremely vulnerable to human encroachment. Like most unprotected forest areas in Cambodia, the area is threatened by logging and the illegal sale of public lands for private ownership.
The Southern Cardamoms are also threatened by the development of large industrial concessions such as sugar cane, pulp and paper plantations. The creation of these large, landscape-altering, plantations poses a serious risk of fragmenting habitat for Asian Elephants and Indochinese Tigers. The development of these plantations would likely cause irreversible damage to the Cardamom’s water catchment capabilities and lead to the desiccation of wetlands and the sinking of underground water tables. In turn, lowered water levels would have major negative impacts on inland and coastal marine fisheries and agricultural livelihoods.
Thirteen rural communities surround the perimeter of the southern Cardamom range. Wildlife Alliance has supported these villages to develop community-led organizations, community ecotourism, community rangers, and environmental education. These programs have already substantially raised the standard of living for participating communities.
Wildlife Alliance’s work with local communities has also increased local awareness of environmental threats. Because rainforests serve as critical resources for non-timber products and water supplies, residents view these forests as essential assets needed to support their livelihoods. Consequently, local people have demonstrated opposition to the entry of large-scale corporations and plantations.
Thanks to the generous support of our Board members and other supporters who cover all of our operating expenses, Rainforest Trust is able to allocate 100% of donations to conservation action. No board member receives financial benefit and our staff salaries are modest.
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