At the end of last year, Wildlife Alliance’s forest patrol unit confiscated 12.5 cubic meters of illegal rosewood – the largest bust of the year! After receiving information from a local informant, the rangers hid along a dirt road for six hours waiting to intercept the illegal wood while in transit. At 3 am, the rangers finally heard engines approaching and jumped on their motorbikes to stop the shipment. As soon as they saw the two large trucks slowly trudging along, four rangers quickly opened the vehicle doors and took control of the trucks. The drivers were handcuffed and the roads were blocked to prevent them from escaping.
Taking the two trucks back to the station was no easy task: after negotiating the dirt roads in the dark, the trucks had to cross several wooden bridges spanning raging rivers to access the closest patrol station. As they started crossing the first bridge, they heard the bridge breaking under the heavy load! So the decision had to be made to take the trucks to a ranger station more than 90 km further instead.
The convoy arrived at the Wildlife Alliance Sre Ambel station at 9 am where they had to count the logs and fill in the legal documentation. 12.5 cubic meters of rosewood were recorded and it was determined that the Chief of the Military Police of Kompong Speu province was the owner of this illegal shipment. This was not going to be an easy case, and just minutes after the Forestry Administration officer leading the operation informed the local Forestry office, the court ordered the officer to bring the two trucks immediately to the court. This had never happened before – as evidence is always kept at the patrol stations under the jurisdiction of the Forestry Administration – but the law authorizes judges to make this kind of decision. We are now following up with the case to ensure that the Chief Military Police is not granted impunity and that the rosewood and trucks are not returned to him in secret.
Rosewood is an especially complicated matter because a lot of money is at stake. It is estimated that 1 cubic meter of rosewood sells for upwards of $50,000 in China and Vietnam. Forest crime uses a sophisticated network that preys on poverty stricken nations and people. Throughout the developing world, it is necessary to take precautions against corruption and information leaks, and doing so often puts the teams dangerously at odds with other officials. However, these vigilant wildlife heroes remain unfaltering. In 2014, the teams confiscated 192 cubic meters of illegal timber and 18 cubic meters of rosewood, removed 22,835 snares and 4,835 meters of netting from the forest, stopped 58 forest firest and rescued 543 animals. Thank you for your support, their important work would not be possible without your continued commitment!
Last month, the Trapeang Rung Patrol Unit received information from an informant about the trafficking of a leopard cat kitten. The traders were seen leaving Koh Kong Town in a Toyota Camry with the kitten and were heading towards Phnom Penh. The rangers left immediately to intercept the vehicle at a nearby checkpoint on Highway 48. After several cars were cleared, the Camry finally pulled up and a thorough search of the vehicle was conducted. Unfortunately, no wildlife was found and the suspect was free to go. Realizing the trader must have disposed of the kitten when he saw the rangers at the checkpoint, the team decided to spread out and search for the animal. After several hours, the rangers found the poor kitten, trapped in a box and hidden in the forest near the main road. The next day, the kitten was transferred to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Station near Chi Phat to be cared for and rehabilitated for possible future release.
Leopard cats are frequently traded for their fur, meat and as pets. While the suspect in this case could not be arrested, if it were not for the intervention of the Forest Protection team, this kitten would have suffered an unconscionable fate. So far this year, the rangers have rescued 388 animals and removed about 17,000 animal traps from the forest. Their ability to utilize an effective informant network, conduct vehicle checkpoints and patrol the forest for criminal activity has made the Southern Cardamom Mountains one of the best-protected rainforests in Southeast Asia. However, protecting 2 million acres of forest in a developing country like Cambodia, where funds towards environmental protection are limited, can be extremely challenging. Our ability to strengthen frontline protection, provide rangers with specialized training and drive down forest crime would not be possible without your support.
Help our Forest Protection Program continue to rescue animals and protect the Southern Cardamoms by making a gift to forest protection today!
On October 20, 2014, the Tatai Patrol Station in the Southern Cardamoms received a phone call from an informant about a sun bear cub that was being held captive in an area 70 km north of Koh Kong Town. The team left immediately to rescue the bear and called upon the Koh Pao Patrol unit for assistance. When the rangers arrived, they surrounded the house and asked the owner for permission to check the property. The owner agreed, and a full search was conducted, but no bear was found. The rangers decided to search a nearby hut, where they located a blue container. Inside the blue container was a tiny bear cub, no more than 6 months old! Unfortunately, the owner of the hut was nowhere to be found, and neighbors informed the rangers that he only visited the property occasionally. The rangers will continue to investigate the matter in order to identify and arrest the hunter. The bear was taken back to the station, and was transferred the next day to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center for care.
Sun bears and other Asian bear species are being brutally targeted by poachers in Cambodia for their body parts which are used in traditional medicine. Because of this active trade in bears and bear parts, their populations - especially in Southeast Asia - have been decimated. The demand for bear parts on the international black market is high and poachers and traffickers can fetch a high price for paws, bile, and gallbladders. Adult bears are poached for their paws - considered a delicacy in soup. Cubs are torn from their mothers and sold into the pet trade. When they get bigger they end up imprisoned in tiny cages or sold to bile farms in Vietnam. Bear "farms" keep the bears caged and alive, while their gall bladder and bile is harvested and sold as traditional medicine.
Help our Forest Protection Program put an end to bear trafficking and continue to rescue animals by making a gift today!
Save a Pangolin this Bonus Day! The Sunda pangolin is a scaly mammal that eats ants and termites, hides in dense forest, and rolls into a tiny ball when scared. However, this secretive and solitary animal is also the most illegally traded mammal in the world. Hunted for their meat and scales, more than one million individuals are believed to have been trafficked in the past decade. In China and Vietnam, their meat is considered a delicacy and is sold for $350 per kg; their scales are used in traditional medicine, and can be worth up to $1,000 per kg. To tackle this escalating crisis, our rangers are working day and night, removing nets and rescuing animals. Last year alone, they removed 15,400 snares and nets, and resued 448 animals. These rangers are on the frontlines of conservation, and $3,500 will help them conduct vehicle checkpoints, remove pangolin traps, stop poachers and prevent this shy and gentle spcies from disappearing forever.
Make your gift go even further and join us on October 15th to help save this incredible animal from going extinct! Visit our micro-project Help Save the Most Trafficked Mammal in the World to see more pictures and learn more about this incredible animal!
October 15th is the final Bonus Day of the year on GlobalGiving - All donations up to $1,000 are being matched 30%!
On June 5, 2014, the Sre Ambel patrol unit rescued a baby Siamese crocodile from a wildlife poacher in Sre Ambel village. Listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN, the animal's health is currently being assessed, after which it will be released into protected habitat in the Southern Cardamom Mountain Range. Extinct from 99% of its original habitat, there are only around 250 Siamese crocodiles left in the wild and most make their home in the Southern Cardamoms. They are threatened by habitat destruction and are hunted extensively for their skin. The luxury market’s demand for crocodile-leather products has had devastating effects on crocodile populations all over the world. Bags and briefcases made from these endangered animals sell for thousands of dollars, making the crocodile business very lucrative for poachers and crocodile farmers. Wild caught animals are often sold into farms where they are hybridized with saltwater crocodiles, further damaging the survival prospects of the species.
The Siamese crocodile can grow to a length of 13 feet, and primarily feeds on fish but is also known to catch reptiles, amphibians, and small mammals. It reaches maturity at about 15 years, and has a lifespan of over 50 years. Once thought to be locally extinct, a small population was found concentrated in the Southwestern region of the Cardamom Mountains. Since 2002, Wildlife Alliance’s Southern Cardamom Forest Protection Program has been defending this crucial region from illegal logging, poaching, and forest fires. Help our forest rangers continue to stop wildlife crime and protect this critically endangered species from going extinct, by making a gift today!
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Communications and Finance Field Liaison