The Wonderful Wildlife of Samloem (WWS) was established in 2015 as a project to offer an alternative to the current unsustainable practices locals, residents and visitors have on the islands by educating them about the wildlife and their importance to the longevity of the island and it residents.
The project began with the completion of Stephanie Young’s open water diving course, after which Stephanie Young began to compile a marine life database of the species found at the dive sites to educate and fascinate divers before and during their scuba experience. This developed into recording the terrestrial species as well until a partnership with The Diveshop Cambodia was established to promote this idea creating “The Wonderful Wildlife of Samloem”and our ecosystem mapping project.
Since our establishment we have been conducting many surveys along the islands beaches and jungle trails. We have already discovered many species (Green Cascade frog & Noble Helens butterfly) that are unexpected to exists in Cambodia let alone on our island , some insect species (a type pf mealy bug) that even some specialists cannot fully identify which would indicate to us we have a new species or at least a sub-species. Beautiful plants such like the Orchids live here which indicate we have a fairly healthy ecosystem as well.
Meet our Staff
Founder of ‘The Wonderful Wildlife of Samloem’ and project coordinator. Before i even understood the true beauty that is nature I have always found wildlife fascinating, when i was young i would have rabbits, horses, chickens, ducks, dogs and cats as pets. After school i went to Sparsholt college where i studied animal management and care opening my eyes to the amazement that is evolution and how so many animals have adapted and evolved to be a part (cog if you will) in such a huge machine (Earth) with each species facilitating one of the many ecosystem services and processes we as people reap from the earth everyday. I continued my education through Bournemouth university expanding my knowledge on the world and how every function is intricately fitted to another and another resulting in something even more beautiful.
I came across the island of Samloem when i began my Dive course and was enthralled by what i found here. What i thought to be a butterfly whisping past me revealed itself as a flying lizard to my amazement. There is so much diversity that inhabits Samloem and i feel a duty to educate tourists and residents about the wildlife, its importance in the ecosystem and the impact we have on it caused by poor education and limited knowledge. Together with my research assistant and friend Sophie Bossman, we have documented and identified a large number of species already, and together with the diveshop and all our external volunteers we can make a real difference.
Sophie left her hometown in Germany about 4 years ago and has been on and off the island since October 2014. She studied “International Forest Ecosystem Management” in Germany and is experienced in the fields of botany, forestry, environmental education and tourism. Sophie started managing Robinson Bungalows on Sunset Beach were she later got into contact with The Diveshop Cambodia.
Stephanie and Sophie met on a sailing trip around Koh Rong Samloem in 2015 and discovered that they both had the same educational background and passion. Sophie has been involved in the project since April 2016 and is currently responsible for identifying and documenting the plants on the island.
“I have always been interested in wildlife and nature. When I first met Stephanie and learned about her project, I immediately thought: I want to be part of it! The island is such an interesting place with beautiful flora and fauna and if we want to keep experiencing this, we need to do something to maintain the islands health in order to share it with others. Documenting the wildlife is the first step of protecting the island because only if we know what species occur here, we can start educating people. It is very important that people understand how the islands ecosystem works since tourism and fishing are the main sources of income for every business owner (locals and foreigners) on the island. Because in the end we are only guests here after all.
The Diveshop staff
The staff at the diveshop have been an integral part to our project with Stephane Moia, Jo Coward, Christoper Jones, Aaron Perchais, Dennis Funke, Pete Frederich, Zia Valkyrie, Sothea Tep, and Camille Du’coup collecting data through marine and terrestrial photographs and videos. Their expansive knowledge and experience of the island has allowed the project to build a fairly vast database.
CHRISTOPHER JONES – Dive master
Chris has been an integral part of the project since the beginning supporting the efforts of Stephanie while she has been setting up, coordinating and conducting her research. He is always photographing the marine life when he goes diving to help expand the marine life data set as well as documenting positive and negative impacts on the reefs we are surveying, which facilitates our goals to understand the causes of negatives impacts so we can develop more sustainable alternatives.
AARON PERCHAIS & CAMILLE DU’COUP
Aaron is the operations manager for the Diveshop on Samloem, living on the island for over 3 years and his knowledge about the marine life here is vast and detailed. Aaron has been helping us to facilitate our goals by assisting with data collections for the marine life. His photography skills and extensive knowledge about the islands marine life has led to us recording and identifying many rare species that we would have never encountered; minute nudibranch that resemble cartoon sheep and can only be found on a certain species of sea grass.
Camille came to the diveshop to do her zero to hero (from no dive experience to dive master). During her time at the diveshop she has be part of the team helping to collect marine data including some fantastic videos of dancing nudibranchs, crawling spider crabs and even snaps some terrestrial when she find something Stephanie might find interesting.
Stephane is one of the Diveshops Dive masters in training and has been with the company since May 2015. He as been a real asset to the project collecting marine and terrestrial data since he has been with the diveshop. He has also assisted the project in many reef clean ups since we have been established helping to reduce the impacts of rubbish and improve reef health and its inhabitants.
Jo is also a Dive master in training at the Diveshop and has been since May 2015. She has been helping with data collections for both the marine and terrestrial wildlife on the island and also been involved in our reef clean ups. She is also using her creative skills to make wildlife videos and short clips of what you can find on and around the island to entice a more ecological mentality from the residents and tourists.
Pete has been part of the Diveshop team since 2015 as a PADI instructor but his involvement in the project has been more towards documenting the terrestrial life we have. He is a passionate photographer and takes every opportunity to go for a wander in the jungle to see what beauties he can find. With the help of Pete we have already saved a paradise tree snake and taken it in to recover, releasing it a few days later back into the jungle.
Dennis is the owner of The Diveshop Cambodia and has been since 2009 and has always been a supporter of small projects to promote the community and improve the island. The Wonderful Wildlife of Samloem partnered with Dennis in October 2015 and upon Stephanie’s return from England in February 2016 the project began. He is an integral part of the project supporting the researchers on the island, providing diving equipment for data collection and facilitating connections with other charities, projects and business owners on the island. With over 1500 dive around the world and having spent the past 7 years diving the waters around the island he has been able to provide vast amount of data to help us build this project.
Zia began working at the diveshop April 2016 and is the manager for media, logistics and just an all round wizard at helping out with anything and everything. She has been helping to promote the project through social media, facilitating data collection from our island visitors, organizes logistics as well as improving footage and photos taken. She is a fantastically happy go lucky person who is always available to help and a real boost to the project.
Sothea is one of the longest standing members of the diveshop Cambodia since 2008 she began managing the office, organizing logistics between Sihanoukville and the island. But her talents don’t finish there Sothea is the project translator so our efforts can be projected towards the locals of the community, which the one of the main goals of the project.
This is a continual project so our website will be regularly updated with new information and species, so be patient as some areas of the website may be incomplete.
If you have any pictures or information from or about the island please help us to improve our database by sending your information through to us via our contact page