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Local conservationist honoured

THE manager of a Cambodian conservation organisation has received an international award for his role in reducing violent conflicts between farmers and endangered Asian elephants in the Cardamom Mountains and in Mondulkiri province, the conservation NGO Fauna and Flora International announced Monday.

Cambodian Elephant Conservation Group (CECG) manager Tuy Sereivathana, who is known as “uncle elephant” by some members of the communities in which he works, was awarded the 2010 Goldman Environmental Prize for devising innovative ways for farmers to protect their crops from elephants without harming the endangered animals, the group said in a statement.

Pieter Staes, FFI’s marketing and communications coordinator, said that once it had not been uncommon to hear about clashes ending in the deaths of farmers or elephants, but that such incidents had been greatly reduced since Tuy Sereivathana joined CECG in 2003.

“Since Vathana came, there has not been a single reported elephant death,” he said.

Under the guidance of Tuy Sereivathana, farmers began organising night guards and growing more crops that are unpalatable to elephants, employing non-lethal deterrents such as fireworks and loud noises, and partitioning crop fields with chili-laced ropes.

Although the number of elephants continues to dwindle, the statement read: “Mr Tuy and the [CECG] have brought hope to local communities and helped to secure the future of Asian elephants in Cambodia.”

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