Ratana Thida Ransei, 9, studies a map at the Wat Langka display.
Ratana Thida Ransei, a 9-year-old pupil from Chatomuk Primary School, felt excited
at the photographs of birds flying and fish swimming in the Tonle Sap lake, currently
part of an educational display at Wat Langka.
"It is beautiful to see," said Ransei, seated on a mat with her friend
at the end of her visit. "We have learned about illegal fishing, hunting and
deforestation. If the natural resources are destroyed, this could badly affect our
The exhibition is run by Krousar Thmei, a local NGO which assists deprived children
and has created this traveling show to raise children's awareness to the importance
of the lake.
A guide from the NGO takes the children around the maps, photographs and paintings
in the hall and explains the meaning of the pictures on each board.
Stephanie Masson, head of communication at Krousar Thmei, said that explaining the
value of natural heritage was the point of the exhibition. She said it was important
to raise awareness of the children to help them understand the benefits of natural
resources on everyone's lives.
She added that the title of the exhibition, Tonle Sap: Source of Life, followed the
destruction of some parts of the lake's resources. The present time was the best
time to start the preservation effort.
Masson said that the Tonle Sap was under huge pressures from illegal activities such
as dynamite fishing, poisoning, hunting and clearing of flood forests. All these
actions damaged the lake's rich habitat.
"Some parts of the Tonle Sap lake could be endangered in coming years if we
do not really pay attention," said Masson. "So it is important to educate
the children while they are small. When they are adults they will know the importance
of natural resources and will be less likely to engage in illegal activities."
Phal Vichea, aged 8, shared Ransei's thoughts about the importance of the lake. He
said that he had often seen fishermen illegally catching baby fish and also fishing
outside the legal season.
"The teacher [Krousar Thmei's guide] told us that if the birds disappear, the
mice and insects will increase and that will badly damage our crops," said Vichea.
Pascal Favrel, coordinator of the touring part of the exhibition, said that four
classes of school children visited each day. Since most Cambodians were too poor
to come to the capital to see the show, the show would go to them.
It will visit the provinces around the Tonle Sap including Kampong Chhnang, Pursat,
Battambang, Pailin, Banteay Meanchey, Kampong Thom and Kampong Cham, after it finishes
in Phnom Penh November 30.