So we have finally arrived on Koh Rong Samloem after months of hard work. Having studied hundreds of photos of the island it is quite strange to be here, almost like a dream, it’s great. Before taking the boat from the mainland, we had to spend a week in the Capital of Phnom Penh finishing off our final preparations. We had our visas extended, purchased supplies for research and explored some of Cambodia’s colourful history.
When the final team members touched down at the airport this was actually the first time the entire team had been together as we had to make some late personnel changes, fortunately the group dynamic is fantastic. We had a meeting with Fauna & Flora International (after getting hopelessly lost on the streets of Phnom Penh, house numbers are rarely chronological here) where Berry Mulligan gave us a greater insight into the Marine conservation work currently taking place and some previous visits they have paid to the jungle.
We listened to Neang Thy, a Cambodian herpetologist, who provided us with expert knowledge on the Amphibian and Reptilian species found in Cambodia. After this meeting we rushed to the Royal University of Phnom Penh to view their collections of birds, invertebrates and small mammals, the first of its kind in Cambodia. Which also gave us the opportunity to quiz the researchers about their methodologies used to capture the different taxonomic groups.
In order to reach the island we took a 5 hour bus ride to Sihanoukville in a large minibus with 8 students from the Royal University of Agriculture who are working with us for the entirety of our trip (we will talk more about them in a later blog). From there a 2 hour boat ride brought us to the island and to our home for the next month. Internet access on the island is next to non-existent albeit for sporadic trips to the mainland once a week.
It’s quite unbelievable that we are finally on the island, ready to start the biodiversity study, after all the hard work and planning. Furthermore the team and I would like to extend a massive thank-you for the multitude of generous donations from friends and family, received on the Indiegogo page. The money received helped fund the accommodation on Koh Rong Samloem.