May 12, 2006

Report of O?som training
Som Sitha, Sun Yoeung, Kim Chamnan, Kheng Sokhorn, and Chea Kagna


O?Som is a commune in Veal Veng district, Pursat province and it is a rich commune in terms of biodiversity. In 2004 we did research at two different habitats (Veal Veng and Srepraing) to look for the abundances of tortoises and freshwater turtles by conducting formal interview with local people and biological research for the presence of turtle species.  After our surveys, we successfully found the presence of the endangered Indotestudo elongata, the vulnerable Amyda cartilaginea, Heosemys grandis, Coura amboinensis, and Manouria impressa, and the near threatened Cyclemys atripons. Furthermore, we thought that it is still rich in turtle composition because during our survey we found many turtles.

Significantly, the commune (Veal Veng marsh) is also considered as the richest habitat in the world for the critically endangered Siamese crocodile.

We visited the commune to undertake training of community members in the importance of turtle conservation.


We divided participants into two groups: 1) student training and 2) local people and teacher training. We performed like that because if we mixed together between the participants it would make it complicated for the students and people to get appropriate knowledge and culture.

Student training

We have criteria to choose students participating in the course. We selected only students in higher grade from 3rd to 6th grade (the biggest level in the commune) and the students have to know how to read and write so that we can explain, teach, and discuss. We selected 48 students from different levels in the school.

People training

For local people we asked the commune chief to select people, both men and women, from the 4 villages. We got 22 villagers and 4 teachers attending the course. All these people are living depending on doing shifting agriculture, planting rice, collecting NTFP such resin, wildlife and fishing.

Methods of Training

Before teaching we prepared training lessons in Phnom Penh and wrote each main idea and answers into cardboards. We divided each lesson into six parts, including general information about conservation, understanding about turtle conservation, turtles in Cambodia and in the world, current threats to turtles, the turtle trade in Asia, and threat reduction.  Some parts of the lesson we separated participants into groups for group discussion. We did that because we wanted all the trainees to share ideas and be active in turtle conservation. After each group discussion, they would write their answers and show to the other groups. At the end of the training we arranged some incentive presents to encourage people and students in conservation. We offered participants crafts, T-shirts, notebooks, story books, pencils, shampoo, salt, and hats to make them happy and remember our lessons about turtles and tortoises.

We also used turtle photos to ask and attract participants and to find out how many species in their areas.


Student training and People training
As the results there are 48 students and one teacher attending the course, of which 24 students are female. They were from the 3rd and 6th level that can read and write.

We divided students into four group discussions that mixed between the younger, older, male, and female so that each group had diverse knowledge and it was easy to share ideas.

We had some questions to students: 1) How many turtle and tortoise species in their area? 2) What are threats to turtle and tortoise in their areas as well as across Cambodia?? 3) What are possible solutions to save turtles and tortoises?

There were 26 adults altogether in the course and we did not divide them into groups because there not so many people in the class and most of people were illiterate. We had our team members to coordinate the people to make sure they understood about the course?s objectives.

Table of turtle species said to occur in the commune area according to local people and students in the Commune

No of People who said it occurred

Impressed tortoise

Giant Asian pond turtle
Asiatic Softshell turtle
Elongated tortoise
Asian box turtle
Asian leaf turtle

We also asked people about the threats and threat reduction to turtles and tortoises to identify how much people know about how their behaviour affects turtles.

Threat Factors:

  • Using dogs as their hunting partners
  • Using fishing nets, hooks, fishing spear, etc.
  • Poaching for selling
  • Converting forest or marshes for agriculture
  • Firing forest and grass land for farming and catching wild animals and turtles
  • Deforesting for housing

Threat Reduction (suggestions given by the adults)
     Stop using electric fishing equipment

  • Stop using fishing nets, hooks for turtles and fishes as well
  • Stop catching turtle and tortoise for food
  • Stop selling turtles species for food
  • Stop deforesting or destroying their habitats
  • Stop collecting their eggs for food
  • Release turtles back into their habitats

Threat Reduction (suggestions given by the students)

  • Stop deforesting and burning forest
  • Reduce catching turtles for food
  • Stop selling turtle and tortoise
  • Conserve turtle species
  • Stop using fishing nets and hook for catching turtle
  • Stop taking dogs into forest
  • Stop destroying their habitat
  • Stop collecting their eggs for food
  • Don?t burn around the marshes and lakes
  • Don?t using electric equipments for shocking turtles

Conclusion and Recommendations

So in conclusion, we recognised that all trainees enjoyed joining the training and they were very aware about the advantages of species conservation, especially turtle conservation, threats to turtles, and ways to conserve turtle very well. Significantly, they acknowledged that many kinds of turtle species are living in their territory, of which they are threatened by the people themselves.

The local students were excellent at knowing about threats to freshwater turtles and tortoises such as habitat loss, turtle trading, methods of hunting, and they also understood about conservation and they know some kinds of turtle species living in their forest and marshes. The students finally suggested that it was very important to help conserve turtles and tortoises for next generation otherwise they will be extinct in the near future.

As a result, we think that all students and people were very happy having such a good training because they could earn some benefit and knowledge.  So there should be more training courses to their community as it is a kind of helpful conservation not only useful for turtles but also for general biodiversity conservation.

Activities of Training

Children in the class

Child answering question

Child raising hands up for answer
Team teaching students

Group discussion
Student presenting to other group

Team teaching people
Group photos with students

Lifting motors crossing a river on floating bridge

Two people on each side to control the bridge

For more information contact:

Sitha Som
Cambodian Turtle Conservation Team

E-mail: [email protected]