BIRD ROUTES Tmatboey Giant and White-shouldered Ibis site

Tmatboey is an isolated village located in Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary in the Northern Plains of Cambodia. It is the site of a unique community ecotourism project established by the Ministry of Environment and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Cambodia Program. Access to this remote site is coordinated exclusively through SVC.

Left: Giant Ibis, photo by Ron Hoff on one of our trips. Right: Guest bungalow at Tmatboey (E. Briggs)

View an amazing video about Tmatboey made by WCS with SVC guides Art and Sophoan, and Deb Kimoun, Chief of the Community Management Committee at Tmatboey

 The Tmatboey Ibis Project aims to directly link bird-watching tourism, bird conservation and community development. The site supports globally important breeding populations of two critically endangered Ibis species: the Giant Ibis – a near-mythical species for all bird-watchers, naturalists and conservationists – and the White-shouldered Ibis.

Left: inside the guest bungalow (E. Briggs)  Right: Deciduous Dipterocarp Forest (E. Briggs)

A conservation contribution is levied on each visitor, which is used for infrastructure improvements and other development projects, as part of the agreement with WCS to conserve wildlife and maintain natural habitats.Visitors walk through a rich eco-system of open woodlands, seasonally-inundated grasslands, deciduous dipterocarp forest and scattered wetlands. This landscape supports an unparalleled assemblage of threatened bird and mammal species and perhaps the richest remaining example of the characteristic deciduous dipterocarp forest.

A typical trip to Tmatboey takes 4 days and 3 nights. The best time to see the 2 Ibis species is from January to April though the White-shouldered Ibis can be found with reasonable certainty all year. The success of the project can be seen in the population increase in White shouldered Ibis from a single breeding pair in 2002 to six pairs in 2011, and at the roost sites new records are set annually.In September 2012 41 individuals were counted, a number that could only be dreamt of when the project began just a few years ago.

The project is well on its way to becoming self sustaining and earns the village in excess of $10,000 year. Revenue from the visitors for food and accommodation offers a viable alternative livelihood for the village. The conservation contribution paid to the village development fund has been used to fund wells, roads and the local school. The ecotourist project at Tmatboey has been recognised by Wild Asia and received the ‘Responsible Tourism Award 2007.’ In 2008 it was a joint winner of the Equator Prize for poverty reduction through sustainable use of bio-diversity. For further information on our work see our conservation page.

Usually Tmatboey is visited as part of an extended itinerary that takes in the other Preah Vihear sites. The Angkorian temples of Beng Melea and Koh Ker can be visited on route and Preah Vihear Temple can be visited as a day trip. Check out www.cambodia-wildlife-adventures.org for more information on Tmatboey

Left: White-rumped Falcon (James Eaton) Right: White-shouldered Ibis (James Eaton)