Friday, November 2, 2012

The Cardamom Mountains: Have Forest Have Life
- and the Dead of Chut Wutty

"Have Forest Have Life" is a documentary about biodiversity issues in the Cardamom forest region of Cambodia, produced by Camerado SE Asia for WildAid (now Wildlife Alliance), Conservation International, and Fauna and Flora International. See the movie:

The Cardamom Mountain rain forests are considered by some to be one of the most species-rich and intact natural habitats in the region, but they are also one of the least explored, writes The Cardamom Mountains Rain Forests ecoregion sits astride the Cardamom Mountains (locally known as Kravanh) and the Elephant Range (locally known as Dom rei) in southwestern Cambodia and extends slightly across the border into southeastern Thailand. The mountain range rises from sea level to more than 1,500 m to intercept and extract the moisture from the monsoon winds. The orientation of their topography along the Gulf of Thailand produces unusually wet conditions of 3,000-4,000 mm annual rainfall on the southwestern slopes of these ranges, and only a short dry season occurs. The mean annual rainfall total exceeds 5,000 mm in the Emerald Valley near Bokor in the Elephant Range, whereas Kirirom, more distant from the coast in this range, receives about 2,000 mm annually. Also included in the ecoregion is Phnom Aural (1,813 m), the highest point in Cambodia.

The ecoregion is considered to harbor more than 100 mammal species. See a video of a mammal population licking salt deep in the forested mountains.

The elephant population in the Cardamom and Elephant ranges is widely considered to be the most important in Cambodia and among the largest in Indochina, writes

The Phnom Aural and Phnom Samkos wildlife sanctuaries in the Cardamom Mountains of Cambodia were established by Royal Decree in 1993. See a map of Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary and read more about the sanctuary. See a video about the Sanctuary:

Read, what birs you find in the Important Bird Area of Phnom Sakos on
Read about reptiles research by Thy Neang.

See the Buffalo Eye Fungus und read about it.

See the discovered Cambodian kukri snake.

Cambodian environmental activist Chut Wutty, who fought against illegal logging, has been shot in the Cardamom Mountains in 2012. His contribution to the conservation of the Cardamom Mountains and its wildlife was critical, writes Ally Catterick. Read his story on Phnom Penh Post. On the day that Chut Wutty died, he was travelling from Pursat to Koh Kong on a new road constructed by the China-Yunnan Corporation, as part of its development of the Atai Dam, located in the Central Cardamoms Protected Forest, writes Sarah Milne. And she continues: "Since 2009, when construction of the Atai Dam began, the trafficking of rosewood in the northern Cardamom Mountains has been rampant. It appears that tens of millions of dollars of timber have been extracted from the area so far, under the auspices of the MDS Import Export Company. This well-connected Cambodian company was originally contracted only to clear forest from the Atai dam reservoir area, but its logging activities have been widespread and systematic." The investigation into the death of Chut Wutty has been dropped by a local judge, writes The Cambodia Daily.

The drug Ecstasy is coming from these forests. Safrole oil is taken from rare species of trees and is used as the starting material for the illegal production of the drug. Sources of Sassafras oil are now becoming more and more difficult to find both due to the more strict control on the illicit use of the product and, even more importantly, in order to prevent massive deforestation of tropical forests. China, Brazil and Vietnam, the three main historical producers of Sassafras oil, have now banned harvest of the trees, writes So the production moved to Cambodia, namely in the Cardamom Mountains controlled by the Khmer rouge. In 2005 the Cambodian government also banned harvesting of Sassafras trees. Deep in the Cardamom Mountains and Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary in western Cambodia clandestine factories are distilling safrole oil to be used for the production of ecstasy. As a result there is a growing price being paid by the local environment. Trees containing the viscous, fragrant, safrole oil are cut down during the manufacturing process. Read more by Robert Jonathan Dominguez, a senior at North Carolina State University. Read also Ecstasy: No Party for Cambodia's Forests.

NH48 is a very rough road going from Koh Kong through the wild Cardamoms to Pailin and Battambang, it passes mountain towns such as Veal Veng, O Som (there’s a ranger station) and Promoui. "It should be attempted only in the dry season by dirt bikers with oodles of off-road experience", writes

Where you stay and treck in the southern Cardamom Mountains: Read Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains, full of secrets by Washington Post. Tours are offered by Se also Cardamom Mountain Resort. Read more about Chi Phat commune and Rainbow Lodge. And a Cycling Trip across Cardamom Mountains.

Picture by -AX- O Som Village

Picture by -AX- Dam under construction near Mondol Seima in 2011

Picture by Carsten Dohrmann Saom River near Srae Ambel

1 comment:

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