Mar 21

Cambodia stands to lose a large portion of the biodiverse Botum Sakor National Park to luxury resorts, according to Mongabay.com.

Pileated gibbon image

The pileated gibbon is one of many species at risk in Botum Sakor

From rainforest to resorts

Nearly 20 percent of Botum Sakor National Park has been handed over by the Cambodian government to a Chinese real-estate firm which plans to build large resorts and casinos on the land.

These developments will require the removal of large areas of pristine rainforest, which house an incredible array of species, including the pileated gibbon and the Asian elephant. The planned resorts, which are estimated to cost $3.8 billion, are to be the size of cities, and will include an airport and a 64 kilometre-long highway, as well as several hotels and golf courses.

Siamese crocodile image

The Siamese crocodile is classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List

Loss of diversity

Botum Sakor National Park is known to be a haven for wildlife, housing a reported 44 mammal and 533 bird species. These include several threatened species, such as the Endangered Sunda pangolin, the Critically Endangered Siamese crocodile and the Endangered dhole.

The plans to create resorts in the area have angered local Cambodians, as many of them risk being displaced as a result of the developments.

Cambodia is giving away 36,000 hectares to a foreign entity with little if any oversight or obvious benefit to the people,” says Mathieu Pellerin, a researcher with Cambodian human rights group LICADHO.

Sunda pangolin image

The Sunda pangolin is one of many strange-looking creatures found in Botum Sakor

Additional loss

Sadly, Cambodia has lost designated conservation land to development in the past. In 2011, the government handed over 9,000 hectares of land from Virachey National Park in the northeast of the country to a rubber plantation, while in 2007 rights were given to an Australian gold-mining company to perform exploratory mining in half of the park.

LICADHO has recently released a report indicating that more than half of all Cambodia’s arable land has been given to private corporations as economic land concessions.

Read more on this story at Mongabay.com – Cambodia sells off national park for city-sized pleasure resorts.

Learn more about species from Cambodia on ARKive.

Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Species Text Author

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