A Jahoo Tour Guide looks on as the community leader “Vuthy” mounts the tractor and escorts the confiscated timber out of the forest to the community hall.

Tourism slowly returning to Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary and quickly demonstrates its conservation and community benefits including forest protection.

Last week, Jahoo had the pleasure of welcoming visitors to Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary after three months of tourism shutdown. Visitors enjoyed spectacular views of gibbons and other rare primates and unique wildlife as well as hikes to exclusive remote waterfalls.

On one such trip, the Jahoo team came across loggers on indigenous land. The Jahoo team communicated with community leaders who responded within the hour to put a stop to the logging with the aid of KSWS rangers.

The joint ranger and community team confiscated the wood, chainsaws and a vehicle used for carrying the timber.

An ancient Dipterocarpus alatus, note the hole at the base of the tree used for traditional resin tapping

[Right] An ancient Dipterocarpus alatus, note the hole at the base of the tree used for traditional resin tapping
[Left] Escorting the confiscated timber out of the forest to the community hall.

What happened in this incident?

More than 10 trees were felled, including this ancient Dipterocarpus alatus.

These ancient trees are owned by indigenous families who have sustainably harvested resin from them over centuries.

This traditional livelihood doesn’t harm the tree and provides sustainable income to families motivating the protection of the forest surrounding them.

These trees are sought after for their hardwood for construction. The traditional owner of this tree reportedly agreed to sell it, suggesting that the value of this traditional livelihood is now lower than alternative livelihoods such as farming. This is a worrying trend.

Another targeted species of tree was Lagerstroemia calyculata. I walked 30 paces alongside one of these fallen giants. These trees tower above the canopy and are a favourite of gibbons and primates alike for their tall canopy and fruit.

Historically these trees were not targeted by loggers as they tend to grow warped and are often hollow in parts. The targeting of such trees suggests that typical target species of hardwood trees are now rare to find, and these lesser quality trees are the remaining option, despite the minimal reward.

These areas will be better protected through ecotourism, research and community action resourced by the Gibbon Fund (from ecotourism revenue at Jahoo). Jahoo aims to further include this area in its ecotourism and research scope and rehabilitate degraded forest, replanting the area with gibbon-friendly trees and employing indigenous stewards as forest gardeners.


How can you help?

All tours with Jahoo and SVC Tours to this area contribute towards the Gibbon Fund. These fund goes directly to the community leadership committee to pay for activities that benefit the communities, such as land protection, community patrols and social improvements in health, education and culture.

Increased tourism in these areas will continue to increase the value of the forest as a tourism attraction, increasing community support and discouraging loggers.

Click here to see how ecotourism is important in protecting endangered species.

How can you book a tour at Jahoo?

1) Contact Jahoo directly on booking@gibbon.life. Nature adventure from 1 to 3 days in the heart of Keo Seima Wildife Sanctuary.

2) Book the Jahoo Gibbon Camp Experience with SVC Tours. 2 days, 1 night with specialist Khmer English-speaking bird and wildlife guides.

3) Register for the Keo Seima Cambodian Wildlife Adventure departing from Phnom Penh. Monthly scheduled departures from Phnom Penh. If you have a group of 8 people who want to do this trip, e-mail booktour@samveasna.com and we can run this tour any date you want with a 20% discount.

Kyle Winney

Kyle Winney

Conservation Project Manager at World Hope International, Cambodia

Leading the conservation initiative and responsible for integrating World Hope’s expertise in market and community-based development approaches in delivering biodiversity conservation and environmental protection goals through projects such as community-based ecotourism at Jahoo.