Battambang’s bamboo railway to keep on chugging

Bamboo train owners set up their carriage for a trip in Battambang province in 2015. Kimberley McCosker

Kong Meta, The Phnom Penh Post
Fri, 10 February 2017

Battambang’s famed “bamboo railroad” will keep rolling after all.

Authorities confirmed yesterday that the government is planning to rebuild the bamboo line in a new location after it is destroyed to make way for a full-service railway connected to Phnom Penh.

Ngoun Rattanak, spokesman for the provincial governor’s office, told The Post that tours on the railroad will first be halted at some point in the next two months.

“We will stop letting people ride the [railroad] when the construction team reaches the area,” Rattanak said, saying construction is currently advancing through Banteay Meanchey province.

“Now provincial authorities are looking for a new location, because we don’t want to lose it in Battambang for tourism,” he added.

Uch Omthiny Sara, director of the Battambang Tourism Department, had previously reported that 80 percent of visitors to Battambang ride the railroad. (more…)

Posted on: February 9, 2017 8:51 pm

Drought claims 30 black monkeys in Battambang

The bodies of two black monkeys lie on a dried up watering hole in Battambang’s Ek Phnom district last week after they died due to starvation and dehydration. Photo supplied

Mech Dara and Phak Seangly
The Phnom Penh Post, Mon, 2 May 2016

The drought is continuing to take its toll on Cambodia’s wildlife, with a troop of monkeys in Battambang driven from their habitat by a forest fire succumbing to dehydration and starvation.

The 30 black monkeys were found dead on Friday about 10 kilometres from the Sdeykrom Rohal Suong fishing community in Battambang’s Ek Phnom district.

Villagers believe a forest fire that has burned over 1,000 hectares since late March spread to the dry “flooded forest” nearby, driving out the animals and destroying their sources of food.

Meanwhile, ponds had dried up, leaving the monkeys without a source of water. Community representative Hor Som Ath said he believed many more died elsewhere.

“We saw snakes burned in the forest, not monkeys,” he said. “The monkeys died after the fire that damaged their habitat.”

The community last week started taking donations to buy food and water for any surviving monkeys, and had raised $300 as of yesterday from local and Australian donors.

Read: Scenes from a drought

The fire that drove the monkeys out, which had smouldered for months in neighbouring districts, has been difficult to fight and continued burning because of the lack of water, said police chief Chea Sery. (more…)

Posted on: May 1, 2016 8:53 pm

Water birds make comeback in Battambang

A flock of painted storks perch in a tree in 2012. WCS

Igor Kossov, The Phnom Penh Post
Mon, 25 January 2016

Water bird numbers are making a big comeback in the Prek Toal conservation area on the Tonle Sap lake in Battambang province, the Wildlife Conservation Society said in a report released on Saturday.

The study, covering years 2013-2014, showed a rapid increase in the number of lesser adjutant storks, spot-billed pelicans, Asian openbills and others, starting in 2014. Widespread poaching had caused bird populations to decline in the 1990s, followed by a recovery, then another decline towards the end of the previous decade, according to WCS.

WCS Cambodia said that the recovery trend persisted throughout 2015, mainly due to strong anti-poaching measures by community members. Most of the 40 rangers who patrol the area or watch from treetop platforms used to be poachers themselves.

“All of the former poachers are now employed by the project, plus some additional local people,” said Simon Mahood, one of the authors of the study. These guardians work for the Ministry of Environment and are funded by WCS, USAID and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund.

According to Mahood, water birds regulate the entire aquatic community with their diet of fish, frogs and snails. “For us conservationists, they’re also a good indicator species for the health of the whole ecosystem,” he said. (more…)

Posted on: January 24, 2016 9:56 pm