CBET vision of Trapeang Roung:"... We, the people of Trapeang Roung commune, want to see a CBET project that: is owned, well-managed, and operated by ourselves; is developed in a democratic manner with support from our partners and stakeholders; will help to conserve natural and culture resources; will support infrastructure improvement; and will generate job opportunities in ecotourism to benefit locals and reduce poverty. Finally, we want our community to become a good model of sustainable development for other communities and new generations..."
This area is called Trapeang Roung because there is a large pond with a deep cave nearby. Trapeang means 'pond' in Khmer and Roung means 'cave'. The local people say that the rock cave was the place where tigers came to give birth. There were also many snakes and the pond was full of crocodiles. The cave is on the way to Deitum Neap which is about 2km from here.
This area was also known as Roung Kiri as the French gave it this name on the map, when Cambodia was under French colonial rule. Kiri means mountain, so the name Roung Kiri refers to the cave in the mountain.
Very few people lived there before late 60s when King Nordom Sihanouk finally took power over the region. In 1962, Koh Kong town was founded and the area called Koh Kong Province bringing newcomers from Takeo, Svay Rien and Kampong Cham. At this time, there was only 2 villagers in what is now Trapeang Roung.
Trapeang Roung in the Pol Pot Regime
Just as in most of Cambodia, residents of this area were killed under Pol Pot's regime, however the majority of the villagers fled to neighbouring Thailand.
After 1979 this area was restructured into four villages, Trapeang Roung, Deitumneab, Prek Angkung and Koh Kong Khnong. These villages form the Trapeang Roung Commune.
In the 1980's residents and Vietnamese soldiers from the Khmer Rouge Rebels resisted the Pol Pot regime. At that time, most people who lived in this area did so because it was easy to earn a living importing and exporting goods with Thai vendors and merchants. This people called themselves "Thai Kaong Kang", meaning "Thai people living in the mangrove area".
About 90% of the residents spoke Thai, and many found it difficult to speak Cambodian. Still Today many people here speak both Thai and Khmer.
During the 90s, whilst deforestation was and still is illegal, more people came from different parts of Cambodia to earn a living through illegal hunting and logging. Many species of flora and fauna became critically endangered.
Trapeang Roung CBET Project
The Community-Based Ecotourism Project (CBET) at Trapeang Rung was established in October 2008 with technical and financial support from Wildlife Alliance in order to provide sustainable alternative livelihoods to local people while reducing threats to local natural resources by capitalizing on the natural beauty of the region through ecotourism. Trapeang Rung CBET is the second ecotourism initiative created in Koh Kong Province by Wildlife Alliance, and was built based upon the success of the first CBET project in Chi Phat, which is now one of Cambodia’s highest earning CBET projects in the country. This project will serve the 2,179 individuals in 503 households living in the four target villages of Trapeang Roung Commune.
Trapeang Rung CBET also received CBO status on March 22, 2011, which is the first step toward running and managing the project independently and officially open its door to visitors in August 2011.