Casinos, condos and sugar cane: How a Cambodian national park is being sold down the river

Botum Sakor National Park in southern Cambodia has lost at least 30,000 hectares of forest over the past three decades.

Covering a vast peninsula that juts out into the Gulf of Thailand on Cambodia’s southern coast, Botum Sakor is one of the largest national parks in the country and known to be richly diverse in both fauna and flora.

It’s home to more than 500 bird and at least 44 mammal species, including Sunda pangolins, dholes (Cuon alpinus, a wild canid), Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) and pileated gibbons (Hylobates pileatus), all of which are classified as either Critically Endangered (Sunda pangolin) or Endangered in the IUCN Red List.

Over the past two decades, however, Botum Sakor has acquired a darker reputation for having one of the highest rates of deforestation in Cambodia, with those who are prepared to go on the record describing it as a “paper park” that is being effectively destroyed.

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