Jacqueline Lee is an InTheField Traveler with GlobalGiving who is visiting our partners’ projects throughout Southeast Asia. Her “Postcard” from the visit in Cambodia:
Patrolling the jungle and “Viper Valley” for poachers and illegal activity, ambushing culprits, and releasing trapped endangered animals back to their homes - all in a normal day with Wildlife Alliance's Rangers.
Bright and early March 8, 2012 – I met with Amy, International Development Manager, and Eddie, Head of the Ranger Program, at their main Cambodia office in Phnom Penh to depart for the forests of Chi Phat and the surrounding province. I was able to visit 2 of the 6 ranger stations, where rangers rest, plan, and prep for patrols, ambushes, and arrests of those trying to take away endangered plants and animals for markets including exotic pets, medicines, and even food in other countries.
Finally, we arrived at the first Ranger patrol station – I was welcomed with a red carpet salute by local military and rangers. From there I was shown all of the confiscated trappings and vehicles from people illegally hunting and cutting wood (protected wood that is worth a lot of the market - so much that people will risk class 1 misdemeanors resulting in immediate jail time if caught).
Although very exciting, the life of the rangers seemed extremely tough - their motorbikes were parked in the back with small packs ready to go into the forest for days at a time: sleeping, patrolling, and laying in wait to protect each team's designated area of land (which is extremely large). Out there they are all against the elements - mosquitoes, snakes, heat, and whatever else that can be thrown their way. They even have to sleep in mobile hammocks off the ground to keep from snakes and spiders. Additionally, their equipment and bikes have to withstand the elements therefore items like their boots are vital for their safety and experience the most wear and tear.
Currently the patrol stations are strategically placed along the water transport and road transport areas, but with increased control, those who are willing to break the law are trying to find creative ways to avoid the authority of Wildlife Alliance. Therefore, Eddie showed me the goals and hopes for expansion deeper into the forest along the north in order to stop their access that way - although it would be harder and longer to get to as well as get out if a medical emergency occurred. The criminals are getting more sneaky and creative in their activities.
I asked one of the rangers what brought him to Wildlife Alliance, and he said his "love of forest, animals, and conservation." I responded if he was not with WA where would he be - and he said he was previously with the Cambodian Royal Embassy Military.
Right before my arrival - the teams had just rescued and released 25 monkeys back to the forest. While on patrol - I was able to see some monkeys playing and exploring along the river.. a very exciting experience for me. In the end, Eddie shared that because of the efforts of Wildlife Alliance - in 10 years 6 our of 7 land titles wre canceled last year protecting the area from deforestation and development - and keeping a home for this native wildlife, flora, and fauna.
Thank you Eddie and Amy for the adventurous and insightful site visit!
For more details and pictures about my visit please visit: JacquelineInTheField
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Communications and Finance Field Liaison