Stop Hydroelectric Dams from Destroying Cambodia’s Ecosystems

Target: Hun Sen, Cambodian Prime Minister

Goal: Prevent dams constructed for hydropower from negatively impacting fishing migration patterns and fishers’ and farmers’ livelihoods.

Eleven hydroelectric dam projects along the Mekong River in Cambodia threaten the area’s river ecology and fish populations. These dams could irreparably harm seasonal flood patterns and the livelihoods of the farmers and fishermen who rely on the river. Permanent environmental destruction will occur with the development of the hydroelectric dams.

During monsoon season, the Mekong River floods May through November and backs up into the Tonle Sap River and Tonle Sap Lake. After the rain ends and water recedes, the river flow reverses in the Tonle Sap River and it returns to being a tributary to the Mekong River. Farmers rely on the flood waters bringing nutrients and sediment to their farm fields and fishermen rely on the predictable fish migration patterns. Residents in the area have built their lives and culture around the flooding, constructing floating or stilted homes and using the natural patterns of the river for their income. The dams would significantly alter this hydrology, changing fish migration patterns, altering sediment deposition, and otherwise threatening the food security of the area. Fish and rice are food staples not only in Cambodia but in all of Southeast Asia.

The hydroelectric dams might be a step towards modernizing Cambodia but they will come at a cost. The livelihoods of the residents that the hydropower will purportedly help could be destroyed by this development. That is not to mention the significant environmental destruction. Sign the petition to prevent the destruction of the Mekong River and irreversible damage to the residents who rely on it.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Prime Minister Hun Sen,

The hydroelectric dam projects up and down the Mekong River threaten Cambodia’s ecosystems and residents. It is understood that the hydroelectric dams are meant to modernize Cambodia and provide electricity to the half of the population without, but this comes at a significant cost. The residents here have adapted to the predictable flood patterns during monsoon season, building their lives and culture around it. Farmers and fishermen rely on fish migration patterns and sediment deposition to feed themselves and the region. The majority of the region’s fish, rice, and vegetables come from small farms. Cambodia’s food security would be threatened, not to mention all of Southeast Asia. All of this would be permanently and negatively impacted by changing the hydrology of the Mekong River with more hydroelectric dams.

Please, do not let modernization destroy your ecosystems and residents’ lives. Consideration needs to be made for the damage to the Mekong River hydrology, fishing migration patterns, and the residents who rely on the river to feed their families. Stop the development of these hydroelectric dams and allow your citizens to carry on their way of life unimpeded.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Steven Pavlov

Stop Killing Cambodia’s Endangered Animals for Meat

Target: Hun Sen, Cambodian Prime Minister

Goal: Stop the illicit trapping of wild game in Cambodia that threatens many endangered species in the area.

Many endangered species in Cambodia are threatened by the population’s demand for bushmeat. This demand has burgeoned into a significant illicit market for commercial hunters and is decimating wildlife populations in the tropical forests of Cambodia.

Bushmeat is wild game (often trapped illegally) from non-domesticated animals in tropical forests. Some poor rural areas use bushmeat for sustenance but more often than not hunters are urban elite who view bushmeat and the hunt as a status symbol. Many consider bushmeat to be a delicacy or to have health benefits over domesticated meat, but often eating bushmeat is a pathway for the transfer of tropical diseases such as Ebola from animals to humans.

Cambodia is a prime location for illegal game trade, which can include many endangered species such as sun bears, hog deer, and the Sunda pangolin which are caught for eating. Other animals such as baby Asian elephants can also become accidentally ensnared in bushmeat traps. Experts estimate that over half of the species illegally trapped are nearing extinction. Many Cambodians are unaware that many of these species are endangered; to those who are aware, the scarcity makes bushmeat even more desirable to obtain.

The demand for bushmeat has decimated populations of many endangered species in Cambodia and there is no end in sight. Crackdowns on individual hunters and the removal of traps has been largely inadequate to curb the trapping of these protected species. More education is needed to change the public’s view on bushmeat and reduce demand. Additional enforcement will also help to limit activities of larger-scale bushmeat trade organizations. Sign the petition for Cambodia to educate its citizens and crack down on illicit bushmeat trade and protect endangered species from extinction.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Prime Minister Hun Sen,

Illegal bushmeat trade in Cambodia has reached unprecedented levels, pushing many endangered species near extinction. Trapping of endangered species for sale as food, especially rare tropical animals, should not be tolerated by the government.

Although some may blame subsistence hunters for the decreasing wildlife populations, the trapping and consumption of bushmeat is seen as a status symbol for elite, who simply don’t care that these animals are critically endangered. They also don’t care when other animals, such as baby Asian elephants, not intended to be trapped become ensnared and die at their hands. This cruel practice needs to end.

Cambodia should educate the public on the ill effects of bushmeat trade, including loss of biodiversity, unintentional trapping of non-game animals, and the potential transfer of tropical diseases to humans. The current enforcement resources are not sufficient to end the illegal bushmeat trade and protect these endangered species. Please, educate your citizens to reduce demand for bushmeat and enforce restrictions on commercial hunting organizations participating in this illicit activity. It is critical to the conservation of your nation’s precious wildlife.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: A. J. T. Johnsingh, WWF-India and NCF