The Sam Veasna Center for Wildlife Conservation (SVC) manages wildlife viewing trips with exclusive access to Wildlife Conservation Society sites across Cambodia. As a registered local NGO, our goal is to provide an alternative sustainable livelihood from ecotourism for the local communities at the sites that WCS prioritises for conservation. In return for the income and employment received these communities are asked to sign no hunting and land use agreements, which are monitored by Ministries of Environment and Forestry patrol teams advised by WCS.
Our tours are designed to show you the best of birding, wildlife and nature, the real places of Cambodia. We take you places that are off the beaten track in remote wildlife sanctuaries and protected areas as well as the more famous must-see destinations. We introduce you to local people and their cultures, and the result is a birding and wildlife experience that is unique, varied, exhilarating, relaxing and fulfilling, leaving you with a clear conscience.
As Cambodia’s first ever bird tour operator, we’ve been running custom birding tours in Cambodia since 2006, alongside conservation work. We spend six month every year training our passionate, English-speaking Cambodian guides and trainees in birding and wildlife-viewing skills. We work with local guides in the rural areas taking you to places which are beyond reach to others, presenting you with the best chance to see key species.
Still little known as a destination for wildlife watching, Cambodia has an incredible variety of rare habitats and species, many Critically Endangered. In several of the locations we visit and stay, there will be no one else, a truly unique and magical nature experience.
Top Five Birds
- Giant ibis
- Slender-billed vulture
- Bengal florican
- Sarus crane
- Milky stork
At Terra Incognita we support tours that do good in the world. They must help to conserve the environment, support local people, and educate their guests. Here’s what Kao Kok from Sam Veasna Center for Wildlife Conservation said to us…
What conservation activities do you support through the tour, and your wider operations?
We partner with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Cambodia and the Royal Cambodian Government in protected areas, and our work has been awarded globally as a model of successful conservation through community-based ecotourism.
Since 2015, we have worked with WCS Cambodia to support a major bird nest protection program in Preah Vihear. This program protects large Threatened birds, including the Critically Endangered giant ibis, the slender-billed vulture and Bengal florican.
The program has been successful in protecting hundreds of nests of threatened birds, helping to stabilise or recover the populations of many Threatened species. It does so by employing community rangers – often ex-hunters – who receive direct payments for their conservation work.
SVC also supports a supplementary feeding program for Cambodia’s three vulture species: white-rumped, red-headed and slender-billed. All three species are Critically Endangered due to habitat loss, loss of prey species and poisoning. Each year, SVC supports the now iconic Vulture Restaurant in Chhep Wildlife Sanctuary.
SVC has received a number of awards fro the conservation and community efforts, including the Gold Medal at The World Responsible Tourism Awards for Best Contribution to Wildlife Conservation in 2016.
How does the tour support local people?
Through ecotourism, we provide an alternative sustainable livelihood for the local communities at the sites that WCS prioritizes for conservation. Employment, as well as funds generated from our tours, support communities and their families, who in return are asked to sign no-hunting and land-use agreements. After pioneering this award-winning approach in Northern Cambodia at Tmatboey, we have expanded it to eight communities across Northern and Eastern Cambodia.
This approach has strengthened communities and given them an organized voice to speak about unsustainable activities, conservation issues and community issues in their areas. The SVC guides also train villagers in western hygiene, cooking and guest house management so that tourism provides the village with a livelihood and helps to improve standards of living.
What type of environmental education activities do you incorporate into your tour?
We run environmental awareness program, including a focus on understanding wildlife conservation, with primary and middle schools as well as local communities. Delivered by the SVC Guide Team, this education is essential to achieve sustainable use of the natural resources on which local livelihoods depend, including forest products and agriculture.
The program includes sessions on environment, conservation and protection, pollution, climate change, painting, bird watching and ecotourism. By 2016, we reached 1,200 youth and we see this program as a critical investment in the future of conservation in Cambodia.
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