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Royal homecoming at park opening

H IS Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk opened the visitors' center at the Preah

Suramarit-Kossamak National Park in Kompong Speu on June 5 (above) - a case of a

Royal homecoming.

The center's site was once the King's residence, an

area he named Kirirom Plateau more than 50 years ago. In 1950 the Kirirom forest

was designated a reserve by Royal decree.

The King's residence was

virtually destroyed by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, with only the chimney

structure remaining.

The $10,000 cost of the new visitors center was

paid for by a sponsorship from British oil and gas exploration company

Enterprise Oil. It now stands as a permanent monument to King

Sihanouk.

The center, built by Roymar Services, will house a permanent

display about the National Park and will sell guide books and mementos. The

viewing platform commands spectacular views of the forest and a large freshwater

lake.

The Preah Suramarit-Kossamak National Park is 35,000 hectares and

is home to a wide variety of birds, tropical vegetation and animals. A Ministry

of Environment survey, again paid by Enterprise sponsorship, identified 105

species of plants, 195 species of birds, and elephants, tigers, leopards, and

bears.

"The park's inaugration by His Majesty King Sihanouk is an

important event in Cambodia's long-term environmental calendar," Enterprise

general manager Barry Rogers said.

"It seems particularly appropriate

that the park should be inaugrated on World Environment Day [June 5]," he said.

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