Artist narrative

The idea for the current exhibition evolved from images of rare mammals and birds the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) had captured on new digital camera traps which they introduced in 2010 to the Northern Plains of Cambodia. The camera traps are an essential tool in wildlife studies, this modern technology allows conservation organizations to ‘track populations of endangered animals, identify species in a given area, assess population estimates, monitor wildlife behaviour, and draw animal distribution maps.’ (National Geographic)

Using the camera trap images as a starting point ‘Endangered Species’ became the theme for a series of workshops taught by OUN Savann to children at the Green Gecko Project (GGP) and the Cambodian Landmine Museum Relief Fund (CLMMRF). The resulting exhibition is collaboration with WCS and American photographer Eleanor Briggs, the Sam Veasna Centre (SVC), the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB), Cambodian artist LIM Muy Theam and the GGP and CLMMRF children.

Cambodia is home to many globally threatened species, some of which are endangered including the Asian Elephant, Pileated Gibbon and the Indochinese Tiger, and numerous vulnerable species such as the Asiatic Black Bear, Clouded Leopard, Smooth Coated Otter, Gaur and Pygmy Loris. Amongst critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable bird species are the Giant and White Shouldered Ibis, Greater Adjutant, Sarus Crane, White-winged Duck, Masked Finfoot, Green Peafowl, and critically endangered Vultures.

As the behaviour of humans encroaches more and more on the natural habitats of wildlife, this exhibition aims to bring a heightened awareness to threatened species in Cambodia and to those organizations who are working tirelessly to protect our environment and those that dwell within its boundaries.

Artist bio

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) - www.wcscambodia.org

WCS was founded in 1895 and has a clear mission to save wildlife and wild places worldwide. WCS do so through careful science, international conservation, education, and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. WCS is committed to this work because they believe it essential to the integrity of life on Earth. With commitment to protect 25 percent of the world’s biodiversity, WCS addresses four of the biggest issues facing wildlife and wild places: climate change; natural resource exploitation; the connection between wildlife health and human health; and the sustainable development of human livelihoods. While taking on these issues, they manage more than 60 million hectares of protected lands around the world, with more than 200 scientists on staff in over 60 countries.

WCS started operations in Cambodia in 1999, and now works in partnership with the Cambodian government, local communities and other stakeholders. WCS work with their partners to protect wildlife and forests; with local communities to improve livelihoods and protect traditional land use; and also monitor wildlife, forests and livelihoods. WCS work in three major landscapes here: the Northern Plains which lie a few hours north-east of Siem Reap; the Seima Protection Forest in the east of Cambodia close to the Vietnam border and the Tonle Sap great lake and floodplain on the doorstep of Siem Reap.

Eleanor Briggs has been working with WCS for many years connecting people with environments through her stunning photographs of wildlife.

Please see display in the Thev Gallery.

Sam Veasna Centre (SVC) - www.samveasna.org

SVC was named in honor of Sam Veasna who died in 1999 of malaria contracted during a survey of the Northern Plains of Cambodia for the now extinct Kouprey, a giant wild cow and Cambodia’s national animal, a half life size sculpture is shown as part of this exhibition.

SVC was registered as a local NGO in 2006 with the aim of generating sustainable livelihoods for local communities living within the conservation sites where WCS works with the Royal Government of Cambodia’s Ministry’s of Forestry and Environment. In return for an income from the tourists (principally bird watchers who come to Cambodia to see some of the rarest birds in the world, including the Giant and White-shouldered Ibis), the villagers agree not to hunt the wildlife or cut down the forests. SVC now conducts responsible wildlife viewing trips to 6 different WCS project areas and 9 different sites across Cambodia providing incomes for hundreds of rural families, contributing directly to the conservation project areas it visits and raising money for village development initiatives involving health, education and transport.

Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB) - www.accb-cambodia.org

ACCB aims to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity in Cambodia, through activities in the following fields:
*Rescue, rehabilitation and release of native Cambodian wildlife.
*Conservation breeding of selected globally threatened species.
*Environmental education, awareness raising, training and capacity building for nature conservation, aimed at local communities, wildlife officials and national and international visitors and students.
*In-situ (i.e. in the species’ natural habitat in the wild) conservation and research (e.g. biodiversity inventories and wildlife monitoring, species-specific research and recovery efforts, natural resource-use assessments).

Please see display in the Fire Garden.

Green Gecko Project - www.greengeckoproject.org

The Green Gecko Project is a home, school and family for 70 children who previously lived and begged on the streets of Siem Reap, Cambodia. Green Gecko provides security, education, love and opportunities to these children through their formative years and into their adult lives, empowering them to achieve their full potential.
The project also supports the children's families and the broader community through long term health, education and training initiatives. For more about our work at Green Gecko, visit our website.

The Cambodian Landmine Museum Relief Fund (CLMMRF) - www.cambodialandminemuseum.org

In 1997 former Khmer Rouge child soldier Aki Ra founded the Cambodia Land-Mine Museum at his home on a quiet dirt road just outside Siem Reap. Aki Ra created the museum in shanty style huts, housing his collection of decommissioned mines, bombs, and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) that he had cleared throughout the country since 1995.

In March 2001 the Cambodia Land Mine Museum Relief Fund (CLMMRF) in Canada was asked by Aki Ra to help create and manage an official NGO for the museum. The newly constructed CLMMRF is more than a museum. It is also a home that provides education and support for dozens of at-risk youth and landmine-affected children rescued by the CLMMRF NGO.

Many children who are part of the family have suffered overwhelming hardships. The CLMMRF facility was created so that it might serve as a place for the healing of bodies, hearts, and minds with the belief that love, support, and education will help secure a better opportunity for the children that live there.

LIM Muy Theam

Born in Takeo Province in the south of Cambodia, LIM Muy Theam was nine when the Khmer Rouge regime fell in 1979. His family was among the refugees who arrived in France in 1980 where Theam later found a new meaning in life when he discovered a passion for arts and peace. Theam studied interior design and in 1992 he gained admission into the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts de Paris. After receiving a sound artistic and technical education, Theam returned to his native country in 1994. He is one of the few overseas Cambodians involved in helping to revive the Cambodian craft sector since 1995.

He was the artistic director of Artisans d’Angkor for more than 12 years and has now launched a new project that includes training a team of protégé artisans’ apprentices while he embarks on a new creative journey of his own painting.

Exhibition
"Endangered Species"
Artist
WCS/ACCB/SVC/Green Gecko/CLMMRF/Theam
Date
16 December 2011 - 10 February 2012
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