Conservation in Cambodia - Monthly update - July - August 2015
The past two months have been quite different from the previous ones. We couldn’t conduct many underwater surveys due to the stormy weather, but it has been a very productive period for our community initiatives.
In July we participated in several workshops with our friends and partners from Fauna & Flora International (FFI) that were part of an action plan initiative to protect sea turtles at a national level. We started our recycling programme in the local primary school, and we have designed a series of workshops to be developed in the upcoming months with the local Community Fishery (CFi).
The first workshop will be presented in September, and will be dedicated to marine pollution and the solutions to palliate its devastating effects in marine ecosystems. In the primary school we have also presented a puppet show that is part of a Global Shark Campaign proposed by our sister project in Fiji; and the Green Protectors program has been duly modified and completed.
The coastal and reef clean-ups have continued, and we have reached more than a ton of trash collected from underwater. Due to the heavy storms, big amounts of trash have reached the coast, so several beach clean-ups have been conducted during this period, and the trash separated into recyclables and non-recyclables.
Endangered species programme
The sea turtles have been included in our protection efforts, as a cooperation work with our partners of Fauna & Flora International Cambodia (FFI Cambodia). FFI is currently working with the Government of Cambodia in the creation of a National Action Plan to protect sea turtles.
In July and August we have participated in workshops, consultations, and training sessions, and are now taking an active part in the implementation of this initiative in the Koh Sdach area. The plan includes training of safe handling and release of sea turtles to local fishermen, collecting data of sea turtles sightings along the Cambodia’s coastline, and ultimately developing a National Action Plan to protect them. Plans are to extrapolate this initiative to seahorse species in the future. The ultimate goal is that the fishermen and local people start reporting seahorse findings directly to us, in order to get reliable and up-to-date information about these species.
Marine pollution programme
The marine pollution presentation was given to more than 30 volunteers in July and August 2015. This number is a small but valuable part of the Conservation project. It is hoped that the degree of the issue, combined with the easy and helpful solutions to reducing one's own plastic use, will encourage these people to change their habits at home. If they share what they have learned with their friends and family then a much larger network of people may indeed reduce the amount of plastic purchased in their lives. Overall this would lead to less plastic potentially ending up in landfill or, most importantly under our aims, in the ocean.
A large part of our long-term aim with this project is to extend the size of the audience that we can show the presentation to. In particular it is the local people that we hope to reach the most. There is a population on Koh Sdach of approximately 3000 people. Their buying habits and waste management practices have the greatest affect upon the local marine environment. Headway is being made in this area and a community workshop on marine pollution is planned for September.
During July and August we've collected 81.4kg of trash and 27.5kg of recyclables from local beach environments.
Community and education programme
Finally the Recycling Day at the primary school arrived! The preparations for this special day were to paint the rubbish bins with funny drawings to make the difference between recyclable and non-recyclable items, and to plan funny educational games for the school kids.
All the kids were really happy and enjoyed these activities a lot while they learnt about recycling. When we finished the activities, we donated two big bins and one small rubbish bin (recyclable bin, non-recyclable bin and battery bin) to the primary school. We explained to the kids which bin they should use to throw their rubbish into. We are hoping that if they start recycling at school there might be a chance that they start doing it at home as well.
During this period exams took place in the primary school. We prepared the English test for our classes. The overall results were very successful! We are planning to give a prize to the students who got full marks to encourage them all to study harder.
The school is going to have wet season vacation from September to November. During this time we will find more lessons and activities to improve our education program for the school. We are hoping that all the students can learn English from our staff and volunteers successfully next year. Together we can make a better future for the new generations of this island.