A listers musings

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Subject: A listers musings
From: Roger McNeill via Birding-Aus <>
Date: Thu, 5 Jan 2017 23:53:22 +0000
I thought I might post my musings of the past two weekswhile travelling on a 
‘listing’ trip in Cambodia.  A reoccurring topic on this forum and others isthe 
contribution of listers to wildlife wellbeing v the footprint it leavesthrough 
individual species stress and natural resource consumption.I am absolutely a 
lister, very little is more exciting to methan seeing something for the first 
time. Be it a new species (bird or other animal), be it an unusual behaviourand 
if I can capture its sound, all the better.  I don’t consider myself a 
twitcher, I love theadventure of finding my own and rarely chase someone else’s 
find.  And, I have considered the cost and impact oftraversing from here there 
to see something new.  So I wanted to share what I experienced inCambodia this 
past two weeks.My wife and I hired a guide and driver through Sam 
VeasnaWildlife Centre.  SVC is an NGO and afull half of the money we spent is 
purported to go directly into conservation andwe saw examples of this at every 
stop.  Theyhave built lodges in semi-protected forests hiring locals to do the 
cleaning andcooking.  They run school workshopsduring the off season and take 
local children on wildlife outings and they overpay on local rates to rangers, 
boat drivers and other service professionals,with the express purpose of tying 
wildlife and forest protection toeco-tourism.The trip, for Cambodian standards 
was not cheap and had Ibeen travelling independently I could have done it for a 
fraction.  The guides were good, the accommodation werefair to average and the 
food ranged from curious to wonderful.For a lister, Cambodia holds the best 
chance of seeing aselect group of Asia’s rarest birds. Both Adjutant Storks, 
Giant and White-shouldered Ibis, Asias threelowland vultures, Bengal Florican, 
Cambodian Tailorbird, a selection of regionalArborophila partridges and for the 
fit / fool hearty, Cambodian Lauthingthrush.  There are others of course, but 
these weretop of my list.But SVC does not just take bird nerds to try and find 
thebirds like most bird guides or companies. They are actively involved in 
wildlife conservation and see tourism asthe funding mechanism not the end goal. 
I was really impressed by this.  For example, SVC purchase a cow every two 
weeks, tourists ornot to keep the local vultures fed.  Mostbirders would be 
aware that Asia’s vultures have lost between 97 and 99% of thepopulation in the 
last 10 years, but in Cambodia where the vet drugs are notused, they can still 
be found at feeding stations. And yes I bought a cow.In another example, I 
arranged a three day - car, jeep,tractor and foot adventure to hike for the 
Cambodian Laughingthrush and managedonly a 34 second view.  How selfish and 
unsatisfyingI thought, but then when I got back to the village, a lady said 
more peopleneeded to come to show the villagers that they could make money by 
takingpeople into the forest and not cutting it down. She was sad that she used 
to live in a forest and now you had to go 30 K’sto the base of the mountain to 
be in the trees again.I am now more convinced than ever that going to these 
placesis the best way to protect them and their animals.  I have donated money 
to a number ofconservations organisations in the past, but the money here is 
ethereal and notpersonal.  There are plenty of national parksand ‘protected’ 
forests, but these are often the best places to hunt and cuttrees!  If a local 
person can actuallysee the traveller, receive money directly from them or their 
activities, Ibelieve this will make more of a difference and an impact.Perhaps 
I am simply trying to reduce my cognitive dissidencebut I thought the point was 
worth sharing. For those of us who do choose to chase birds, I do believe we 
have anobligation to absolutely ensure some of our money goes into the local 
communityand that the economics of wildlife travel benefit them thereby the 
wildlife.As I said, musings from time sitting in the forest hopingfor a 
lauthingthrush. Cheers, Roger 
Roger McNeillSamford Valley, SEQ
Mountain House Birder's Cottage

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