Prey Proseth Final Report for IEF 2

/ / / Prey Proseth Final Report for IEF 2

Fauna & Flora International

Final Report

Prepared for the International Elephant Foundation

January – December 2008

Authors

Tuy Sereivathana – CECG Project Manager

Matthew Maltby – CECG Project Adviser

Background:

Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has been active in the conservation of Asian elephants in Cambodia since

1996, when we answered a call for help from the Royal Government of Cambodia. The overall goal of FFI’s

Asian elephant conservation activities is to provide the most supportive environment for the long-term

conservation of wild elephant ranges in Cambodia, focusing on building a strong national and local

conservation prerogative, while heading off conservation pressures of an expanding economy. To achieve

this overall goal, our activities are organized around four primary objectives: 1) the enforcement of wildlife

laws through patrolling and forest monitoring; 2) improving community attitudes toward the conservation of

elephants and their habitats; 3) increasing government support for conservation issues, encouraging sensitive

landscape planning; and 4) improving livelihoods of people negatively affected by elephants. To be

strategically placed to effectively deal with Asian elephant conservation issues, and further our long-term

initiative to build capacity in Cambodia, FFI formed the working group of the Cambodian Elephant

Conservation Group (CECG), which consists of three partners: FFI, and two government institutions – the

Department of Nature Conservation and Protection, which is responsible for Cambodia’s Protected Areas

system, and the Forestry Administration, which is responsible for the broader Cambodian forest estate. This

partnership acts to deploy locally relevant and nationally streamlined conservation solutions to the highest

international standards.

In 2008, FFI advanced conservation efforts of the Asian elephant in Cambodia through a range of coordinated

activities. As part of our strategic plan to safeguard key elephant habitat and reduce human-elephant conflict

(HEC), we fully integrate our community-based solutions to deliver real conservation benefit on the ground.

We estimate that through the activities outlined in this report, in conjunction with the International Elephant

Foundation, we have begun the effective conservation of 15,000 hectares (37,000 acres) of surrounding forest

and elephant habitat. This year we progressed on building structures and awareness about the elephant

corridor linking two important traditional habitats, began successful land use planning in a new elephant

conservation community, conducted a survey of domestic elephants, and continued our work to improve local

livelihoods, tackled human-elephant conflict across elephant communities, and built conservation awareness

among key stakeholders from mining concessions to poverty-stricken remote forest communities. These

efforts, combined with advancements in building conservation capacity at the provincial and national levels,

demonstrate that FFI is making steady progress toward our goal of stabilizing and, ultimately, increasing the

wild population of Asian elephants in Cambodia.

Reporting on Objectives for this grant:

1. Conserve key elephant habitat including historical elephant corridor by piloting Participatory Land Use

Planning (PLUP) at Prey Proseth village, O’bakrotes Commune, Koh Kong province.

The area around the village of Prey Proseth was identified by CECG as being of high importance for elephant

conservation due to forest habitat integrity and relatively high levels of human-elephant conflict (HEC) that

could put the local elephant population in jeopardy. As part of our community-integrated approach to

elephant conservation, we established the “Prey Proseth Elephant Conservation Community.” The

community has five committee members who are responsible for the community’s three units: the elephant

guarding, agriculture, and finance and administration units.

Using the internationally recognized Participatory Land Use Planning (PLUP) methodologies, we have

produced a comprehensive community land classification map for Prey Proseth village and the surrounding

area. This process involved extensive consultation with villagers, local authorities, the Ministry of Land Use,

the Ministry of Environment, and the Forestry Administration. The PLUP map has now been approved by

both village and commune chiefs and demarcates arable and forested land (see Map 2) and will inform

initiatives designed to enhance community livelihoods.

2. Livelihood Improvement to farmers of Prey Proseth Elephant Conservation Community to reduce HEC

and stress on surrounding pristine elephant habitat:

Working in cooperation with the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation (CEDAC), a

local agricultural specialist group, we have provided training courses on livelihood improvement to local

farmers. In training, we introduce elephant-friendly crop planning practices that discourage crops known to

be attractive to elephants (such as banana and sugar cane), while encouraging the cultivation of crops that are

unpalatable to the elephant. This year, our activities were specifically focused on cassava cultivation and

chicken farming. During 2008, we:

• Provided 35,000 cassava trees provided to the community as a non-palatable, “elephant friendly”

crop;

• Encouraged and trained 10 families to operate chicken farms using improved practices. These

families now derive a good income from the sale of chickens every 3 months and no longer rely on

selling forest products;

• Provided a hand-tractor to Prey Proseth Elephant Conservation Community for farmers to share

during plowing season.

• Introduced and provided other alternate crop seeds – including cucumbers, watermelon, white

radish—to villagers in neighboring communities.

By focusing these activities on farmers along the “elephant front line,” these methods have resulted in almost

complete cessation of forest clearing, and wild game hunting is now at or almost zero. Indeed, there is an

example of one farmer, Mr. Thim Rorth: when he heard about our activities, he went home, destroyed his

charcoal kiln, and began planting cassava the next day.

The recent harvest season has been hugely successful, with 10.5 tons of cucumbers collectively grown by 10

families, resulting in a gross sale of $3,412.50; 50 tons of dried cassava has been produced by the community,

with an anticipated value of $3750. Unfortunately the cassava price per ton has fallen around 50% with the

recent financial crisis affecting the export market to Vietnam and Thailand. With regard to the rice crop, the

harvest escaped damage by wild elephants this year due to the mitigation methods implemented by CECG.

Through elephant Guarding Groups, use of elephant deterrents such as fireworks and noisemakers and

heightened vigilance we have managed to deter all visiting wild elephants before they were able to damage

crops and other property. 20 tons of rice was produced between 15 families, with a market value of $4,000.

3. Capacity Building for Long Term National Management of Elephant Conservation in Cambodia:

Our team has undertaken a range of training activities this past year, including:

– Mr. Chheng Tim, of the Provincial Ministry of Environment and our HEC field team has

completed studies in Geographic Information System (GIS) and Database management. This

will assist him in keeping the HEC database up to date and providing regular and insightful

analysis on HEC trends at a provincial level. He has also helped to design our new domestic

elephant database.

– Mr. Chea Virak, our National level CECG counterpart from the Forestry Administration is

studying GIS. Our project has also assisted core FFI staff member Mr. Phirom in advanced GIS

techniques and analysis.

– Miss. Mao Dawne, CECG assistant has completed courses in administration and English.

– All CECG staff from both national and provincial level were trained by the CECG Project

Manager, Vathana in activity planning and implementation.

– Project Manager, Mr. Vathana had planned to study for a PhD in elephant conservation but had

to cancel his plans due to a lack of local university capacity. He has however completed training

on logical framework analysis, which was instrumental in the production of the new CECG 5

year strategy plan.

– CECG Project Manager and Project Adviser attended a 5-day workshop on the Range-wide

Mapping and Priority Setting of the Asian Elephant, which was attended by members of all 13

range states.

– The national CECG team also attended a 7-day training course on Community Based Ecotourism

in Cambodia.

– Our team took part in a staff exchange program with FFI’s Sumatran Elephant Conservation

Project (SECP) in Indonesia to help share knowledge and experiences on dealing with HEC and

setting up successful ecotourism initiatives.

We hope that these activities will all contribute to the long-term sustainability and effectiveness of the CECG

project, which is now under full time management by Khmer national staff.

4. Continued and improved HEC Mitigation:

Our team continues to come up with new HEC mitigation solutions, which are both innovative and as well as

use some proven modern technology:

th We continue to test and use Electric fences as an elephant deterrent. On the night of May 24 2008, two

elephants (one female and one young) came to the edge of a farmer’s plantation to raid crops. When she

touched the fence with her trunk, she was surprised and ran away trumpeting loudly. This incident was very

successful as a deterrent, but we are still unsure of its effectiveness, as that night the ground was very wet

after rain and so the shock may have been stronger than usual. Continued monitoring of this technique in all

weather types has shown that it is an effective measure to deter elephants from crop raiding. However, one of

our solar electric fence charger units was stolen in December and as yet has not been recovered.

In Mondulkiri Province, CECG has created three new guarding groups and 2 new elephant watchtowers.

We continue to educate and instruct farmers to use fireworks properly to avoid causing forest fires or set fire

to people’s property. Currently fireworks and carbide explosions are very cost effective ways of deterring

elephants. For some areas that are rich in bamboo trees, we have encouraged farmers to use bamboo trees to

replace plastic pipes in order to produce loud noise (carbide explosion) because plastic pipe is more

expensive and difficult to find.

We have expanded our HEC activities to Preah Vihear province, in the North of Cambodia that borders the

Thai and Lao border. We see this as necessary as there is a herd of elephants living there very close to human

habitation, thus there is a high potential for HEC in the future. We have provided the team there with the

knowledge and materials necessary for HEC mitigation to be ready for when it happens. Every two months,

our National team visits there to provide further training and consolidation.

We have also taken early preventative measures to avoid HEC in Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary in the

northwestern Cardamom Mountains. This third of a million ha protected area is home to a number of small

elephant herds who are now increasingly under pressure from external factors including land-grabbing, road

and infrastructure development, and mineral extraction operations. We have disseminated our HEC Toolbox

to 200 families in priority areas where villages and human activity are closest to the known elephant range.

Challenges:

The project faced several challenges this year. Our first Cambodian manager, Mr. Tuy Sereivathana, who

took over full-time management of the project in 2007 continues to develop and improve many aspects of the

project and has inspired his colleagues at both the provincial and national level. In the field, the wide-ranging

habits of wild elephants require a careful balancing between the jurisdictions used by the elephants. With his

experience of working in a variety of government ministries, Vathana has successfully been able to facilitate

discussions to resolve political tensions leading to conservation action on the ground.

With regard to building conservation capacity among local stakeholders, we continue to face the educational

limitations of the generation that was raised during the Pol Pot regime, when education was not a national

priority. While FFI is working in other projects to improve these conditions, this issue will remain a

challenge to conservation projects for some time. We are pleased to see that our capacity building efforts are

having a positive impact on both the local and national levels and are committed to sustain these efforts as

needed.

With regard to the Participatory Land Use Planning process, we faced challenges because the legal and

regulatory environment governing land use planning in Cambodia remains unclear. In addition, the price of

land, both rural and urban, continues to rise, exerting additional pressures on elephant habitats. These upward

price pressures are currently exacerbating existing difficulties in zoning and land use planning that are

integral to sustainable conservation, as many people prefer to sell their land to make money.

Companies holding land concessions in the target areas, many of them non-Cambodian, pose great challenges

to the conservation community as they often resist efforts to limit environmental impacts, and may have

especially close relations to relevant government agencies. This occurs at a very high level and is difficult for

FFI to affect. We continue to work with stakeholders at the landscape level to improve the situation.

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