Conservationist Soksophea boosts wildlife conservation
The town of Stung Sen in the province of Kampong Thom, located about 170 kilometers or a three-hour drive north of Phnom Penh, received a surprise visit from one of Cambodia’s favorite singers, Meas Soksophea, who is appeared to sing at an event to support the “Zero-Snare” campaign.
This wasn’t your typical concert or show when the karaoke actress nicknamed “Srey Aun” usually performs, but an environmental event in support of the campaign, which aims to eradicate entrapment, stop the trafficking of wild species and eliminate the demand for bushmeat and other wildlife products.
The launch in the city of Stung Sen was the fifth of the campaign – the other four are in the east of the country – and received a boost with the participation of nature and wildlife enthusiast Soksophea.
She said she would do her best to use her popularity and influence to end the trapping crisis and fight wildlife trafficking in the country.
Sophea, who is an environmentalist, called on all her fans to play an important role and boycott ‘bushmeat’ while encouraging all restaurants and canteens to say ‘no’ to bushmeat on their menus.
“We can do it,” said the talented singer. “And the most important thing is to protect our forests and our wildlife.”
“I never thought my idol would come here,” a high school girl said at the Aug. 12 event. “But she came here with a deep love for the environment and wildlife.”
The star surprised her fans after appearing on camera in front of dozens of reporters at a press conference a day before the campaign was officially launched in the province on August 12.
Soksophea said his stay in Cambodia’s second-largest province was aimed at boosting wildlife conservation.
She included the event in her busy schedule of performances and songs to support the campaign and appear in front of cheering supporters with the message ‘Say No to Bushmeat’ and ‘Love the environment and natural resources’.
“I’m very happy to be here,” she said. “I am happy because the Ministry of the Environment understands my objective, and what I am trying to achieve are fruitful results by involving more young people in environmental protection, in particular by boycotting the meat of bush.”
After the event, Soksophea joined Ministry of Environment officials, rangers, students, government officials and other members of the public in a march through the city streets to call for an end to the trapping crisis.
“My fans now play a big role in making this work happen, and I’m proud of them,” she said.
At the campaign launch in the province, Soksophea, who wore a T-shirt with a picture of a trapped baby elephant on the back, also sang to an audience of hundreds who attended the event. The song named Domnos radius Where The solution raises awareness of environmental protection.
“The environment is life, nature is breath, and every tree is for the benefit of the earth, helping each other protect the forest,” the beautiful singer sang as the audience sang the chorus.
The event was posted on social media and attracted tens of thousands of viewers. His official Facebook page has 5.5 million followers.
“Please say ‘no to bushmeat!’ To destroy wild animals is to destroy yourself! Wildlife protection is our role,” said one of his recent Facebook posts, which received many positive responses from viewers.
The singer said she is committed to using social media as a platform to raise awareness about wildlife protection and conservation in the country.
“I will try to convince those who depend on trapping for a living to become people who love wildlife,” she said.
Environmental Protection Initiative
During an interview, Soksophea said that she will continue to produce attractive music videos to promote environmental protection.
“Some people say they’re not interested when we produce music videos related to the environment, but I won’t give up hope,” she said. “I want our people to love nature and wildlife.”
I will try to produce more music videos on related environmental issues,” she said. “If my project does not succeed, I will change technique.”
In 2010, Soksophea established a charitable organization known as “Meas Soksophea Heart Foundation”, which aims to raise awareness of issues affecting people in need from all sectors of society, including contributing to natural disasters, offering opportunities and education for young people and encouraging and educating young people on environmental issues.
“When I was on a singing mission abroad, I also accepted donations from generous people to help preserve elephants in Ratanakiri province,” she said.
“I will use a portion of these profits to help our society through environmental protection initiatives and wildlife conversation,” she added.
Soksophea said that during the Covid-19 pandemic, most campaigns had been suspended except for those using social media.
She also asked the Ministry of Environment and the competent authorities to authorize and facilitate her new campaigns after the improvement of the Covid-19 situation.
Neth Pheaktra, Secretary of State and spokesperson for the Ministry of Environment, expressed his strong support for the Soksophea initiative.
“We support its involvement in the protection and conservation of natural resources,” he said. “The Ministry of Environment alone could not make this mission a success, we have to work together.”
The passion for protection
In the interview, Sophea expressed her gratitude to all the restaurant and brewery owners who announced that they would stop offering bushmeat to customers.
So far, 47 eateries and eateries have removed bushmeat from their menus. These restaurants and breweries are located in the provinces of Kratie, Mondulkiri, Preah Vihear, Stung Treng and Kampong Thom, according to a ministry report.
The Zero-Snare campaign in the province was launched on August 12 by the Department of Environment, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Fauna and Flora International (FFI), Conservation International (CI) , Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and the Regional Community Forestry Training Center (RECOFTC).
Soksophea urged villagers who depend on slash-and-burn agriculture and hunting activities to change this behavior, which will benefit nature and society.
“We have stopped some activities (bonding, hunting and poaching) in some areas,” she said. “Before, they thought that if they didn’t do it, they wouldn’t have anything (work) to do. For me, I will try my best to join with the government to encourage the villagers to give up illegal activities, but at the same time improve their livelihoods.
She said some NGO partners are already working with relevant ministries to improve local communities by providing financial and technical support, training and job creation, among many other activities.
Her involvement in environmental protection is nothing new for the popular Cambodian pop singer. In 2014, Soksophea advanced environmental protection by participating in a forest protection program with community members from Phnom Aural Wildlife Sanctuary in Kampong Speu Province and helped organize tree reforestation .