Scientific group worries about future of Cambodian and S.E. Asian environments

The largest-ever gathering of tropical biologists and environmental scientists to meet in Cambodia has expressed strong concerns about several development trends in the country, and in Southeast Asia generally. 

Perils ahead for leopards and lots of other Asian wildlife

Perils ahead for leopards and lots of other Asian wildlife

Over 300 scientists from 29 nations met in Phnom Penh this week, representing the Asia-Pacific Chapter of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC). 

The scientists expressed their concerns in a document entitled the "Phnom Penh Declaration" (which you can download here).

“We have a number of worries, but our most immediate concern is a proposed road that would slice through vitally important forest in Mondulkuri Province in eastern Cambodia, from Srea Ampos to Kbal Damrei,” said Seng Teak, Conservation Director, WWF Greater Mekong.

“This road would clearly imperil one of the biologically richest forests in Indochina, an area that provides critical habitat for rare wildlife such as Elephants, Leopards, and Banteng, as well as over 230 bird species,” said Mr Teak.

“Unfortunately, roads that cut into wilderness areas like that in Mondulkuri almost always open a Pandora’s box of environmental problems, such as illegal logging, poaching, and land clearing,” said William Laurance, a former ATBC president and director of ALERT.  Laurance has studied the environmental impacts of roads and infrastructure across the tropics.

“This is a critical time for decisions impacting wildlife and natural resources in Cambodia and throughout Southeast Asia,” said Teak.  “There are huge plans ahead for new roads, dams, mining projects, and other infrastructure that could have severe environmental impacts.”

“It’s absolutely vital that there be rigorous environmental impact assessments done before any major project is undertaken,” said Teak.  “And we need a precautionary approach to projects—to look at them very carefully to ensure that they really are essential.”

“If we don’t, we could lose a lot of the wildlife and natural ecosystems that make Cambodia unique, and that form the basis of our thriving and highly profitable tourism industry,” said Teak.

Do the world a favor: Dob in an eco-sinner today

Want to do the world a favor?  The next time you see somebody harming wildlife or the environment, turn 'em in.

Dying for their skins...

Dying for their skins...

In late February we wrote about a new website called WildLeaks -- established especially for anonymously dobbing in environmental sinners.  Guess what?  It's working.

In just its first three months, WildLeaks has resulted in tip-offs for 24 major wildlife crimes, including leads on elephant and tiger poaching, and illegal fishing and forest destruction. 

The crimes that WildLeaks has recently unearthed include:

• elephant poaching in Africa and illegal ivory trading in Hong Kong

• the killing of perilously rare Sumatran tigers

• trafficking of live chimpanzees in Liberia

• illegal fishing in Alaska, with alleged links to the Mafia

• Illegal imports of African wildlife products into the US

• illegal logging in Mexico, Malawi, and Siberia

The designer of WildLeaks, Andrea Crosta, is a pro at this stuff.  An expert on elephant conservation, his past exploits include revealing how Somalian terrorists used ivory smuggling to fund their activities. 

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Thanks to WildLeaks, those who profit handsomely from eco-crimes -- which total hundreds of billions of dollars annually --- will be spending a little more time glancing nervously over their own shoulders.