From Bengal Floricans to Giant & White-shouldered Ibis and 3 critically endangered species of vultures, a trip to the Cambodian bird sanctuaries is an experience of a lifetime. With experienced English speaking local guides leading the way, each birding adventure supports the local community and gives back to wildlife conservation programs.
SVC manages wildlife viewing trips with exclusive access to Wildlife Conservation Society sites across Cambodia. SVC was established by WCS to provide an alternative sustainable livelihood from ecotourism for the local communities at the sites that WCS prioritises for conservation.
SVC was named in honour of Som Veasna, a pioneering Cambodian naturalist who died at the age of 33 of malaria while surveying the Northern Plains of Cambodia for the now extinct Kouprey.
SVC was registered as a local NGO with the Ministry of Interior in 2006 with the aim of providing alternative livelihoods to local communities who live in the protected areas. In return for the income and employment received they are asked to sign no hunting and land use agreements, which are monitored by Ministries of Environment and Forestry patrol teams advised by WCS.
Conservation with Hong Chamnan SVC Director photo Eleanor Briggs
SVC currently has 8 English speaking guides who have at least 2 years training in bird identification and site knowledge, 5 are also licensed temple guides. We have 3 trainees who we hope will be ready to guide day trips later in 2011.
During the rainy season when we have few customers our guides are passing on their identification skills to local guides at the sites we visit to ensure the best chance of locating target species when we visit using the local knowledge of guides at site.
The SVC guides also train the villagers in hygiene, cooking and guest house management so that tourism provides the village with a livelihood.
At Tmatboey our flagship site, the success of this model has been proven. The village won the 2007 WildAsia Responsible Tourism Award and in 2008 The Equator Prize for Poverty Reduction through Conservation of Biodiversity. Payments to the Eco-tourist Committee for accommodation, food and local guiding now exceed $10,000 per annum for a small forest community where average annual income was <$250.
The real success of the project is measured in the populations of the birds it was set up to protect. Since 2002 the numbers of both critically endangered species of Ibis have risen dramatically.
By taking a trip with SVC you are helping directly conserve Cambodia's natural environment and the livelihood of those who depend on it in 3 ways;
A conservation contributionof $10 per day trip or $30 overnight is levied on each SVC customer. This money is held by SVC for development projects that benefit the whole community. At Tmatboey the CC has paid for new wells to be dug, a school extension to be built, roads and bridges to be maintained and a health clinic.
Direct payments to local communities for services recieved provide employment and income to families that would otherwise rely on a non sustainable exploitation of their naturalenvironment.
SVC aims to offer a professional service ensuring what we hope will be an amazing experience for our customers in return for a fee. Any surplus that SVC makes from eco-tourism contributes to the conservation costs at the sites we visit.
Make a donation of cash or field equipment, we are always looking for binoculars or scopes to help train SVC and local guides, moving up the scale GPS equipment would be useful in survey work, laptops for the village communities to help manage the ecotourist facilities and top of the wish list is a 4WD vehicle which would be used for training, surveying and ecotourism.
Buy publications or products, as well as providing additional income for the center this helps to support additional livelihoods. We intend to start selling rice on fair trade principles from the sites we visit linked to conservation agreements.
Come birding in Cambodia, by choosing to travel with SVC you will be directly helping local communities in key conservation areas to realise the value of their local environment and help to conserve it.
We would like to express our sincere appreciation to current and past supporters, including Wildlife Conservation Society, IUCN NL, Oriental Bird Club - Smythie’s Fund, the Royal Belgium Institute of Natural Sciences, and CRAVO. SVC also heartily thanks Eleanor Briggs, Colin Poole, Joe Walston and the countless individuals, birders and friends who have visited the center, taken birding trips with us and made generous donations.