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Equip Rangers to Protect Endangered Wildlife

by Wildlife Alliance
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Equip Rangers to Protect Endangered Wildlife
Equip Rangers to Protect Endangered Wildlife
Equip Rangers to Protect Endangered Wildlife
Equip Rangers to Protect Endangered Wildlife
Equip Rangers to Protect Endangered Wildlife
Equip Rangers to Protect Endangered Wildlife
Equip Rangers to Protect Endangered Wildlife
Equip Rangers to Protect Endangered Wildlife
Equip Rangers to Protect Endangered Wildlife
Equip Rangers to Protect Endangered Wildlife
Equip Rangers to Protect Endangered Wildlife
Equip Rangers to Protect Endangered Wildlife
Equip Rangers to Protect Endangered Wildlife
Equip Rangers to Protect Endangered Wildlife
Equip Rangers to Protect Endangered Wildlife
Equip Rangers to Protect Endangered Wildlife
Equip Rangers to Protect Endangered Wildlife
Equip Rangers to Protect Endangered Wildlife
Equip Rangers to Protect Endangered Wildlife
Equip Rangers to Protect Endangered Wildlife
Equip Rangers to Protect Endangered Wildlife
Equip Rangers to Protect Endangered Wildlife
Equip Rangers to Protect Endangered Wildlife
Equip Rangers to Protect Endangered Wildlife
Equip Rangers to Protect Endangered Wildlife
Equip Rangers to Protect Endangered Wildlife
Equip Rangers to Protect Endangered Wildlife
Equip Rangers to Protect Endangered Wildlife
Equip Rangers to Protect Endangered Wildlife
Over 3 tonnes of illegal luxury timber seized
Over 3 tonnes of illegal luxury timber seized

The multi-million dollar illegal luxury timber trade poses a relentless threat to Cambodia’s rainforests. In fact, an estimated 85% of Cambodia’s timber exports end up in China, feeding the craze for Hongmu furniture – a highly-sought-after type of luxury furniture. In the Cardamom Mountains rainforest, luxury timber is cut by illegal loggers before being trafficked inconspicuously on National Roads to middlemen in urban centres. As a GlobalGiving donor who helps equip rangers for their patrols of protected areas in the Cardamoms, your contributions enable us to keep battling the illegal trade in luxury timber.  

In July, Wildlife Alliance rangers from Osom and Roveang stations, in coordination with the Ministry of Environment, ambushed a truck on a National Roadtrafficking an inordinate amount of illegal timber. The truck containing an enormous 670 cubic feet of illegal timber was ambushed based on information provided to the rangers by an informant.

A few weeks later, Chambok station rangers seized more than 3 tonnes of illegal luxury timber from a house within their patrol quadrant. A total of 227 pieces of Siamese rosewood (Dalbergia cochinchinensis), known as ‘Krak kranhoong’ locally, were seized in the raid. Siamese rosewood is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List and is becoming increasingly rare because of demand for the illegal timber industry. The rangers also seized small amounts of ‘Nangnuon’, another type of luxury timber, as well as the skin of a serow and 1 dead red muntjac.

Truck carrying illegal timber ambushed by rangers
Truck carrying illegal timber ambushed by rangers
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Setting up camp. Rangers may rotate night shifts.
Setting up camp. Rangers may rotate night shifts.

‘The longest patrol I’ve done is seven days…sometimes we have to go 48 hours without sleep’. Long patrols are a tough physical and mental challenge, explains ID, one of Wildlife Alliance’s rangers, but they bring the team closer, allowing them to form stronger bonds.

Working in the forest for days at a time relies on complete self-sufficiency. All food, cooking equipment, and camping gear is distributed between the team and the task of cooking is rotated. Not only this but confiscated illegal gear is sometimes required to be taken back to the station for evidence. At any one time, the team could be carrying up to 15 chainsaws on their motorbikes whilst also on patrol.

However, being self-sufficient is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes down to effective long patrols. Tracking down illegal poachers and loggers in dense rainforest requires rangers to be sharp. Often teams will go out without a lot of intelligence, meaning they have to rely on their ability to follow signs of recent illegal activity. ‘’Over time you start to notice things. For example, I learned how to distinguish between a trail made by a truck full of timber and one that’s not. The dryness of the prints indicates how fresh they are,’’ says ID.

As the rains from Cambodia’s wet season sweep in, a whole new set of challenges presents itself. The rains can wash out existing trails and paths, making even traveling a few hundred meters a significant challenge. Despite this, there is a silver lining to the wet season. The tracks created by offenders are easier to distinguish and offenders don’t go deeper into the forest.

Despite the challenges, long patrols are an integral part of Wildlife Alliance’s work by its rangers to protect almost 1.5 million hectares of the Cardamoms Rainforest Landscape.

Aftermath of illegal loggers cutting in a PA
Aftermath of illegal loggers cutting in a PA
Rangers load up their motorbikes for a long patrol
Rangers load up their motorbikes for a long patrol
Roveang station rangers cook after a day of patrol
Roveang station rangers cook after a day of patrol
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Rangers from the Pangolin Station (Stung Proat) dismantled an astonishing 3,200 m or nearly two miles of bird netting in Cambodia’s Cardamom Rainforest Landscape. These nets are a form of illegal hunting that is devastating to Cambodia’s bird population. Poachers set up walls of netting and often use the calls of already captured birds or recordings to attract other birds who fly into and get caught in the net. Unsustainable levels of hunting, coupled with deforestation, is the greatest threat to wildlife in Southeast Asia, a region at the epicenter of the global extinction crisis. These rangers' heroic work to has saved hundereds, if not thousands, of bird's lives. 

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Tracking Endangered elephant footprints
Tracking Endangered elephant footprints

The Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) population in the Cardamom Rainforest Landscape is widely considered to be the most important in Cambodia and among the largest in Indochina. Vast expanses of intact forest, largely due to the stringent protection from Wildlife Alliance, has allowed this population of Endangered elephants to remain safe and stable. Although our rangers patrol in elephant habitat every day, it is not often that they actually spot an elephant. While these pachyderms are massive creatures, they are light on their feet and camouflage incredibly well into the terrain and dense vegetation. In order to monitor the elephant population, our rangers track signs of elephants, such as dung piles and footprints and capture photographs using camera traps. While on a recent patrol, rangers from the Siamese Crocodile Station (Chhay Areang) found such evidence. Unfortunately, on the same patrol they found and dismantled 155 poaching snares including one with a live civet trapped which the rangers successfully rescued and released back into the forest.

While snares are not set with the intent to capture elephants and are meant to capture wildlife such as wild pig and sambar deer for the bushmeat market, elephants are often caught too. A survey of the Southern Cardamom elephant population found that of 7 calves identified, 4 had severe snare injuries and three older elephants had trunk lacerations from snares. These high levels of snare injuries could be causing an unnaturally high level of infant mortality, jeopardizing the recovery of this vital elephant population.

By monitoring the elephant population, our rangers know where to prioritize their patrols to protect this iconic Endangered species. Last year, Wildlife Alliance rangers removed 19,986 snares from the Cardamom Rainforest and have achieved zero elephant poaching since 2006.

Herd of Asian elephants in the Cardamom Mountains
Herd of Asian elephants in the Cardamom Mountains

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Five black marsh turtles (Siebenrockiella crassicollis) escaped their fate of ending up in a restaurant when Wildlife Alliance rangers intercepted a poacher transporting them out of the Cardamom Rainforest. Black marsh turtles are classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List and their populations are decreasing as the demand for freshwater turtles in the international meat trade rises. After intercepting the poacher, rangers from the Green Peafowl Station (Sre Ambel) immediately released the turtles back into freshwater habitat inside the Southern Cardamom National Park.

The Southern Cardamom National Park is home to >50 IUCN Threatened species, including Asian elephants, Asiatic black bear, pileated gibbon, Bengal slow loris, and four Critically Endangered species: Sunda pangolin, Siamese crocodile, southern river terrapin, and giant ibis. Without your support, our rangers wouldn't ba able to protect these species from poachers and the destruction of their rainforest habitat. Thank you! 

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Organization Information

Wildlife Alliance

Location: New York, NY - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Jessica Knierim
Development Associate
New York, NY United States
$38,265 raised of $50,000 goal
 
745 donations
$11,735 to go
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