Anne SjolanderAnne (second from the left) interviews local community members in Mondulkiri Protected Forest. WWF- Cambodia works with communities to sustainably manage forest resources.
Needless to say, I took on the opportunity to volunteer with WWF in Cambodia without a second thought…
Chumrip-sua, akun chron, khnom traew ka baay cha.
Translation: A formal hello, thank you, and I want fried rice.
The best way to demonstrate, how much I learned about Cambodian conservation during my volunteer placement is to present you with a few questions.
Do you know what a Banteng is? An Irrawaddy dolphin? A Kouprey? What about a Mekong Giant Catfish? Or a Cantor’s Giant Softshell Turtle?
Neither did I.
To put it bluntly, there are hundreds of species living in Cambodia that I did not even realize existed on our planet. And the more I learned about these species and (even on a few occasions) saw these species, the more I realized how crucial it was that we protect them. Not only are these species important for biodiversity and the health of eco-systems and society, but also to Cambodian culture.
Two Banteng, an endangered wild cattle species, are caught butting ...
Indochinese tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti) is only found in the ...
The Mekong giant catfish is part of a historical Lao and Thai ...
“This incredible discovery means that a unique turtle can be saved ...
These amazing creatures, face astonishing challenges: upstream hydropower dams, the illegal wildlife and logging trades, and deforestation for mining and agriculture. Add government corruption and the looming threat of climate change, and it’s easy to feel incredibly overwhelmed.
But with each challenge, comes a response. And the way in which WWF-Cambodia responds is by uniting. They unite local communities towards sustainable lifestyles. They bring together national and international populations to support conservation efforts. They connect experts in the field to conduct vital reasearch.
But you don’t necessarily need to travel to Cambodia to learn about conservation challenges and solutions. (Though I highly recommend it.)
Wherever you are and wherever you travel, take advantage of getting to know the people. I learned the most from my internship with WWF by interacting with the staff, community members, and researchers who are face to face with conservation challenges. They truly showed me the importance of WWF's conservation efforts.
Back in the United States...