Many people have heard about reputation of Tmatbouy Ecotourism Community Protected Area situated in Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary, where visitors can come to watch Critically Endangered Giant and White-shouldered Ibises. But, a few people have known that Dep Oun has spent more than 10 years leading Tmatbouy achieving remarkable results like today.
Dep Oun, age 45, is a villager of Tmatbouy in Preah Vihear province. Recognising the importance of forests and wildlife, Dep Oun became a committee in Tmatbouy Ecotourism Community Protected Area to protect the forests and wildfire for next generation. He led community members to conduct forest patrolling and arranged meetings to educate villagers about importance of forests and wildlife.
“First, I thought it would be so difficult to change villagers’ behavior and made them all understand about importance of forests and wildlife because they have relied on those natural resources to make a living for many years. But, I am committed to solving the issues and protecting natural resources around the village for next generation,” said Dep Oun.
In 2006, Dep Oun was elected as Chief of Tmatbouy Ecotourism Community Protected Area. In this role, he has led community members to well protect forests and wildlife and boosted ecotourism project to help villagers generate extra incomes. This ecotourism project has been progressing very well, with numbers of visitors increasing every year. In 2015, more than 200 international guests visited Tmatbouy ecotourism, allowing the community to generate almost $20,000 dollar and more than $6,000 dollars for village development fund.
“I am delighted to see Tmatbouy villagers understood and joined in forests and wildlife protection. I am also proud to see numbers of Giant and White-shouldered ibises increased since the Tmatbouy Ecotourism Community Protected Area was established, especially allowing villagers to generate incomes from ecotourism,” said Dep Oun.
Tmatbouy is well recognised for its well wildlife protection and ecotourism. The community has been awarded by various stakeholders, such as government institutes, non-governmental organization, and private sectors. Recently Ministry of Environment gave gold medal to Tmatbouy Ecotourism Community Protected Areas for its well forests and wildlife Protection.