Peam Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary is located in south-western Cambodia. The area is known for its mangroves and numerous islands separated by a maze of bays. The Sanctuary protected by the Cambodian government. The area is influenced by inter-tidal levels and water from highland areas. Peam Krasaop Wildlife Sanctuary provides
favourable conditions for fishery and other resources. Around 10,000 people are living here. Many of those people have resided on and done various occupations for their livelihoods and are dependent upon the natural resources in the area,
including intensive shrimp aquaculture, large-scale charcoal production, and other purposes.
The estuarine areas are the intersection between freshwater and saltwater, especially during the rainy season.
Villagers remain highly dependent upon their environment: aquatic resources are used for subsistence and income generating purposes, mangroves provide breeding grounds and protection for aquatic resources, other wildlife and a source of fuel wood. People are poor - resources are declining, houses leak during the rainy season, there is not an adequate water supply in most villages, there are few schools and those that are open only offer grades one and two, and there are few clinics in any of the villages.
Fishing methods and seasons have changed over time. As the population has increased, so too has the number of fishers in the PKWS area. Especially since 1990 when the Thai market has opened up and more efficient fishing gear was introduced (often illegal i.e. cyanide fishing or illegal trawling), villagers have noticed a gradual decline in resources. Most people in PKWS no longer fish merely for subsistence purposes, and while some people continue to crab trap, other fishing gear is also used. Fishers now use nylon nets; trawlers use polysynthetic nets. Push netting and trawling in shallow waters is illegal, as is dynamite and cyanide fishing; however, illegal fishing is quite popular.
Charcoal production increased dramatically: the potential for easy profit through the Thai market lured many Khmer's into this area. Too much pressure was placed upon the mangroves, and some of the best mangrove stands were decimated. Even though charcoal production is illegal, it has been really difficult, until recently, for the Department of Environment to curb such activities. The government started to destroy charcoal kilns.
As more kilns were destroyed, some former charcoal producers became middlemen while poor people fled deeper into the mangroves to avoid detection. Because of a lack of budget for monitoring and enforcement, the government had difficulty in stopping these illegal activities. However, the Department of Environment has been trying consistently to stop charcoal production for the past few years and, with the help of the 1999 ban on illegal logging activities, charcoal production has dramatically decreased.
The main gateway to Peam Krasaop Wildlife Sanctuary is the settlement of Boeng Kayak (Bankayak),
where the local community has built a 600 meter mangrove walk that consists of a series of elevated walkways, picnic platforms, a suspension bridge and a 15-meter-high observation tower offering panoramic views.
An entry fee is required for access into Boeng Kayak: foreigners pay 5000 riel), while Cambodians pay less.