Wildlife Alliance – in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries – is making headway in its initiative to erect fences around Phnom Tamao.

The project aims to protect forests, wildlife and the local farming communities surrounding the hilly zoological park and wildlife rescue centre, located in Takeo province.

The international non-profit forest and wildlife conservation organisation is shouldering the costs of the fence project.

According to Nick Mark, Wildlife Alliance’s director of wildlife rescue and care, the fences are essential for safeguarding the local wildlife in the area.

“We’ve already started erecting a 4-5km stretch of fences around the forest,” he explains in a video posted on his Facebook page. “The builders have been fast and efficient.”

Mark added that the fences would not just protect the forest and its inhabitants but would also offer a valuable service to the local community.

He elaborated that farmers living around the area have complained about wild animals such as wild boars and the vulnerable sambar deer damaging their crops.

“We’ve heard from locals who have had their gardens invaded by wild boars and the sambar deer. These fences will help people in protecting their crops and vegetables,” he said.

Mark also reassured those who rely on the forest for their livelihoods for weaver ants, leaves and firewood, clarifying that the fences would not impede their access to the forest.

He emphasised that although Phnom Tamao is not large, the forest has significantly benefitted the environment, the local people and wildlife.

“Phnom Tamao forest isn’t just a place for locals and visitors. It’s also an air purifier and a reducer of environmental pollution. We at Wildlife Alliance are grateful for everyone’s efforts in protecting the forest and valuing natural resources,” he expressed.

Recently, King Norodom Sihamoni signed a royal decree to designate Phnom Tamao as a protected area and botanical garden.

This decree covers a total of 2,025ha in Takeo province’s nothernmost district of Bati.

This initiative signifies progress towards the sustainable protection of forests and wildlife, including rescue, treatment and rehabilitation efforts for wildlife, while also bolstering education, research and tourism opportunities.

The decree specifies the division of the area into three sections – a wildlife sanctuary that spans 1,021ha, a 530ha botanical garden for fine woods, and another space covering 474ha assigned for the rescue, treatment and rehabilitation of wildlife, along with educational, research and tourism activities.

The agriculture ministry is tasked with managing the newly-designated areas and devising plans to develop them sustainably, as outlined in the royal decree.