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Botum Sakor National Park

Botum Sakor National Park is the biggest national park of Cambodia. It's situated on the coast of the Gulf of Thailand. Botum Sakor (or Botumsakor) is a peninsula projecting southwest from the Cardamom Mountains. The majority of Botum Sakorís area comprises gently sloping lowland covered by evergreen wood and grasslands, emerging in coastal flood plains with mangrove and swamp forests. The Park is surrounded by sea in the East, South, and West and the coastline is fringed with relatively intact mangrove forests.
 

The national park of Botum Sakor has a very rich and varied wildlife that is unique in the world. The park is home to many endangered species such as the Asian Elephant, Indochinese Tiger, Clouded Leopard, Turtle and Sun Bear to name a few. Most of the many reptiles of Botum Sakor are snakes, including charismatic species such as the king cobra and the Malay pit viper. Snakes are regularly seen, and subsequently hacked to death by local residents, at local plantations.

There is also a known small population of Siamese crocodiles in some of the parks creeks. Cambodia in fact retains the world's largest population of this critically endangered species, which was recently thought to be extinct even.

 


The larger saltwater crocodile is also here, and although it is of least concern from a global conservational viewpoint, they are threatened in South-east Asia. In Cambodia, saltwater crocodiles are thought to be restricted to Koh Kong Province. The park is a very important environmental area with critical habitat.

Disturbance of Botum Sakor National Park is extremely high. In the beginning of the new millenium there was illegal logging of evergreen forest (~30 km≤/year). These initial crimes and large scale destructive activities, was eventually halted, but the national park is now facing an increasing threat of destruction under the pretext of so-called development.


Criminal practises of illegal logging of the national park, has become a problem once again in the last few years. Satellite images, journalistic investigations and activist reports shows how the formerly densely forested interior has been thinned to an extent, that almost all of Botum Sakor National Park has been directly affected. Many of the densely forested habitats are now degraded and categorized as so called mixed forest habitat because of this thinning. There seems to be a number of reasons for the new illegal logging. Some of the companies involved in the concessions and organized criminal syndicates. Some of the logged timbers are Rosewood and various threatened hardwood species used in luxury buildings and for expensive furniture. But also plants like the Saffrol Laurel tree and yellow vine are being cut and collected to make psychoactive drugs like ecstasy, for south-east Asian traditional medicine, etc.

Poaching in Cambodias national parks remains extremely rampant and Botum Sakor is no exclusion to this trend. The methods that are most disturbing in Botum Sakor are the setting of snares, and the opportunistic hunting of small mammal species for food. The poaching in Cambodia have many reasons, but one of the reasons in Botum Sakor National Park is feeding the traditional Chinese medicinal market.

Getting there:
The highway route from Bangkok to Phnom Penh passes through the Cham Yeam-Hat Lek border crossing near Krong Koh Kong and continues east along NH48 and then NH4. Nearest town is Koh Kong.
The entrance to the park is free of charge, but once there you will need to pay a ranger about US$5 per day.

Activities:
Bird Watching, Wildlife Viewing, Walking/Hiking, Canoeing and Camping.