Young pair of photographers earn kudos from environment ministry

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
An aerial view of a village in Rolea Ba’ier Commune in Rolea Ba’ier district, Kampong Chhnang province. KIM PANHAROTH

Cambodia is a land rich in natural resources as parts of the Kingdom are still relatively untouched by human development and lack the presence of any residents or even tourists.

Two young and adventurous photographers – Kim Panharath and Nou Tola – have taken to going out of their way to visit such locations in the Kingdom, documenting their journeys with their cameras along the way, which has gained them a social media following of young Cambodians who dream of trekking to the same out of the way locales.

Recent years have seen an upsurge in youth ecotourism activities such as hiking and camping in the remote mountainous areas and the pair of young photographers said they have enjoyed taking pictures of the fantastic wilderness scenery and helping to promote local tourism to those spots in the process.

Kim Panharath is a photographer with many years of experience who is also skilled at flying drones for aerial photography. This combination of skills has earned him a stunning array of beautiful images all his own to post on social media.

Panharath began his forays into the wild in 2011 and has been to many of the Kingdom’s main natural tourist attractions. His social media following has also inspired groups of young people to set out into the forest to reach the places he’s photographed.

“Photography is my art and I’ve taken pictures everywhere now, wherever I happen to go. Some villagers see my pictures and are surprised because they did not expect that their area had any clean or beautiful parts of it left at this point,” he said.

Phanarath said that he has encountered some difficulties with obstacles in his path while on his hikes and the worst of them have resulted in expensive damage to his cameras or drones.

His work has been supported by the Ministry of Environment in the past and it has even awarded certificates to him to encourage him and many others in the field like him to keep up their efforts.

Phanarath’s partner in adventure, Nou Tola, also known as Black Tiger, is just as prolific of a photographer and his images of nature have been shared by the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Environment on their official websites to support and promote Cambodia’s tourist-dependent communities.

Tola said his adventures began in 2012 when he started walking in the forests nearby the capital, such as Kirirom National Park. His photography career began in 2016 with him sharing photographs he had taken to social media.

“I am really happy to see our young Cambodians starting to visit and spend time in the forests relaxing. It is a sign that Cambodians are beginning to take seriously their duty to protect nature, forests and wildlife,” he said.

He said that young Cambodians who go camping or hiking need to be very careful about managing the garbage they produce while there to keep the area beautiful.

“I would like to call on our young people to get more involved in exploring new places or new tourist sites and improving the lives of people in the community. I’d also urge them to help stop deforestation and hunting,” he said.

Tola said he was thankful to the Ministry of Environment for recognising the quality of his photos and that he found the official recognition encouraging and a source of motivation to keep producing new images.