Conservation and Environment in Cambodia: Monthly Updates
Cambodia Marine Conservation Project – May 2012
This month of May bought with it a little taste of the rainy season, though that didn't stop us from still having a busy and productive month. It was a very training intensive month with volunteers completing their PADI Open Water and Advanced Open Water courses as well as training in reef check methodology.
This month was spent training all the new volunteers in reef check methodology; this includes learning fish and invertebrate species as well as identifying many different types of substrate and participating in mock surveys.
We were asked to give a presentation at the Marine Fisheries Management Area Inception Workshop. The conference was sponsored by the Flora and Fauna Institute and held by The Cambodian Fisheries Administration in Phnom Penh. Our presentation covered the work we had been doing surveying 49 points around Koh Rong Samloem, it also presented the diversity and abundance of organisms around the dive sites closer to the project.
We also talked about other activities that have helped the community fishing zone around the village which include community run patrols, the installation of recreational mooring buoys and the deployment of 40 anti-trawling blocks. All these achievements that were presented to the conference were only achievable thanks to the help and hard work of our previous volunteers.
Three big trees which posed a danger to the village in the coming rainy season were pulled down. While this was very exciting it did leave a mess of branches leaves and seeds all over our beautiful beach. Volunteers helped collect all the branches as well as all the rubbish that had been entangled in it. We have made a huge pile on the beach and so far our efforts of burning have been unsuccessful, as soon as we get a few dry days we will be having a beach bonfire.
As usual our regular beach and reef cleans have taken place with a great effort by all volunteers cleaning in both rain and shine.
English school went back to normal this month after all the disturbances of Khmer New Year behind us. We had our highest number of teaching volunteers this month which was fantastic and the kids love being able to have more focused and smaller class sizes when there are extra teachers around.
Once again the monthly fun day was a huge success, with perhaps the volunteers getting more competitive than the kids. There were rice sack races, bobbing for fruit, relays and finished off by pier jumping and swimming. These days are a great way for all the volunteers (not just the teachers) to get to meet the kids and get involved in the village.
The gardening is going very well and we have started making a new garden in the staff house in the village, at this stage everything is still starting out in pots. However the area has been marked out with rocks and there are big expectations for the outcome of the garden.
With the start of each rainy season there are always a few more chores to be done to prepare. Volunteers helped to clear and dig channels to help with the drainage around the project site, rocks and sand were carried to build up the low lying areas at the front of the bungalows which are prone to flooding.
Our new dive boat spent the month out of the water being worked on, it has been gutted and next month work will start on making it suitable for diving.
There was another wedding in the village where the volunteers got to experience a traditional Cambodian wedding, sharing a meal with the village and showing off their best dancing skills.
The end of May also included all the excitement of Cambodian election time; with officials visiting the island and campaign announcements blearing through the village at all times of the day. It was just another unique experience that volunteers get to experience as the project is so closely connected to the village and local Cambodian culture.
Project Coordinator, Cambodia