To safeguard habitat in protected areas, our rangers combat various aspects of the illegal logging supply chain. To maximize profits, loggers sometimes cut not only luxury timber species, which fetch a high price even as unprocessed logs, but also trees of lower market value. Kilns are used to increase earnings from low value trees by converting them into charcoal. When charcoal kilns are constructed in large numbers inside protected areas, they can contribute to the destruction of wildlife habitat, deforestation and climate change through greenhouse gas emissions.
Thus, our rangers identify and dismantle illegal charcoal kilns as part of their patrols. In the first quarter of 2023, a total of 228 bags of illegal charcoal were seized by our rangers and 125 charcoal kilns were dismantled. More than half of these kilns were destroyed during a single mission.
During a flyover in late January, two clear cut areas with many charcoal kilns were spotted in the Biodiversity Conservation Corridor and Samkos REDD+ Project area in Pursat Province. Rangers from the Rovieng Patrol Station were immediately deployed to inspect the area and liaise with the local Commune Chief to deliver a verbal warning to the suspects that they should dismantle the kilns. When the rangers returned 5 days later, the kilns had not been taken down. Our rangers dismantled 73 charcoal kilns and 7 illegal camps, and confiscated 3 chainsaws and 1 homemade gun from the two sites.
Thank you so much for supporting our ranger patrols so we can keep the trees standing in the Cardamoms!
During the last quarter of 2022, our rangers in the Cardamom Rainforest who your donations support rescued 156 live wild animals from poachers! In addition to patrolling the forest, the rangers set up checkpoints along roads that loggers and hunters use to smuggle illegal wildlife and wood out of protected areas. These checkpoints and nighttime ambushes of transporters along the roads saved many wild lives in October, November and December.
In mid-October the Stung Praot Patrol Unit conducted nighttime inspections by setting up a checkpoint along the boundary of the Southern Cardamom National Park. The rangers noticed that a motorbike quickly turned back in the direction it had come from instead of approaching. They pursued the bike and found a bag that had been tossed along the road with 1 slow loris and 1 turtle inside. The animals were brought to our Wildlife Release Station (WRS) the next day.
About a week later, while conducting a routine patrol, the same unit saw from a distance that a man had dropped his motorbike and run away. The rangers approached the bike and found 1 macaque, 1 wild chicken, 79 snares and 1 speaker for playing sounds to attract birds into traps. The monkey was brought to WRS and the chicken was released back into natural habitat. That same day, the Veal Pi Patrol Unit set up a night ambush on a main road and caught two motorbike riders with 1 dead macaque and 3 live long-tailed macaques that were released the next day.
A few weeks later, rangers on duty at Veal Pi Station called the Trapeang Rung Station to let them know that a suspected wildlife transporter riding a motorbike had passed by without stopping at the post for inspection by the rangers. The Trapeang Rung rangers quickly rode to National Road 48 to catch the suspect. The transporter was nowhere to be found, but had abandoned 4 live monkeys in bags on the side of the road. The monkeys were healthy and were released the same day.
In November and December, a total of 5 live Sunda pangolins were rescued! Sunda pangolin is a Critically Endangered species and it is unusual for our teams to encounter so many in such a short period of time. One female pangolin had a serious injury on her leg and was taken to Phnom Penh for veterinary care before being transferred to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre. Another two pangolins were saved after a moto driver refused to stop for inspection. When the rangers pursued him on their bikes, he threw a bag at them that had two live pangolins inside. Since they were both in good condition, they were released into protected habitat. The Trapeang Run Patrol Unit conducted a nighttime ambush along National Road 48 after being tipped-off about a man transporting a pangolin. They found the suspect and chased him down. The pangolin was still alive and healthy so they released it. A few days later, an informant notified the unit that another motorcycle would be trafficking wildlife along the same road. Another nighttime ambush was conducted and the rangers rescued one more pangolin, this time a healthy male who was released the next day after being given water and ants.
In addition to saving animals during patrols and ambushes, our rangers are also sometimes contacted by local people who find wildlife and want to make sure it will be safe. In late November, a villager from Chi Phat called the Stung Praot Patrol leader to donate a baby Sambar deer. After a health check the fawn was brought to WRS for further care by the animal keepers there.
Your donations help make it possible for our rangers to keep up this vital work day and night to save wildlife. Thank you so much for your support!
2022 has been quite a year for Wildlife Alliance/Cambodian Ministry of Environment rangers whose patrols to protect the Cardamom Rainforest Landscape are supported by your generous donations. In the first 9 months of 2022, our rangers already removed more wildlife snares than during all of last year – indicating that Southeast Asia’s snaring crisis is worsening. This report highlights a recent case where our rangers caught a Phnom Penh police official poaching wildlife inside a protected area and summarizes overall patrol results achieved thus far this year.
In early September, the Stung Proat and Sre Ambel patrol units caught and detained two hunters in the middle of the night. The pair had been hunting wildlife and illegally using weapons inside the Southern Cardamom National Park, and were caught red-handed with several dead animals, including 1 pregnant sambar deer (IUCN Red-Listed Vulnerable species), 1 civet and 3 kilos of bush meat. In addition, they had 3 pistols and 2 rifles with scopes and targeting lasers, and were driving a pick-up truck with Royal Cambodian Armed Forces license plates. During the investigation, it became apparent that the men were Phnom Penh police officers and one of them held the rank of 1st Lieutenant!
Our Cardamom Forest Protection Program team filed a case with the Koh Kong Courts requesting maximum legal penalties be applied to this pair of State Officers who were using State resources to destroy protected, state-owned natural resources. Provisional detention warrants were issued for both of the men, and they were handed over to Kong Kong Prison officers. We hope this case serves as a deterrent for other officials who may think they are above the law!
While this case is just one example, our rangers are busy day and night and they accomplish a lot. From January-September 2022, our rangers:
Support from donors like you is vital to paying salary supplements for the Ministry of Environment rangers on our teams, who make it possible for us to operate patrol stations and ensure the Cardamom’s vital habitat is protected. Thank you so much for helping us make this landscape safer for wildlife!
If you are planning to make any year-end gifts, please mark your calendars for November 29th when you can help us earn a portion of GlobalGiving’s $1.2 MILLION USD Incentive Fund. All unique donations of up to $2,500 made November 29, 2022 from 12:01AM-11:59PM Eastern Time will be matched! To meet the match requirements each donation must be:
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We know times are tight and appreciate all that you do already. If you cannot afford to donate right now, please consider sharing this report with friends or family to spread the word about our work and this Giving Tuesday opportunity. Best wishes for a wonderful giving season.
Rangers from the Cardamom Forest Protection Program that your donations support have been hard at work during the past quarter. Highlights from this period include removing thousands of snares from the forest – each one a death trap that could have taken a wild animal’s life – and helping a ‘Royal Turtle’ that was captured by a fisherman find its way back to the wild. We hope you enjoy these updates!
In early September, a local fisherman contacted our Stung Prat Patrol Station to report a large turtle had been accidentally caught on the hook of a fishing line in Chi Phat River, Koh Kong Province. It turned out to be a female Southern River Terrapin (Batagur affinis) weighing more than 30 pounds! This species is Cambodia’s National Reptile and is commonly known here as a Royal Turtle. It is IUCN Red-Listed as Critically Endangered, and considered one of the world’s 25 most endangered turtle species. Once believed extirpated from Cambodia, in 2001 the species was rediscovered in Koh Kong’s Sre Ambel River System. Like most turtles, it is slow-growing and takes many years to reach reproductive maturity.
When our rangers realized the fisherman’s turtle had a microchip in her back leg, they contacted Wildlife Conservation Society’s turtle conservation team, which runs a hatch and release program to strengthen the Royal Turtle population. Data from the chip in her leg revealed this female was released in Sre Ambel River in 2021, when she weighed less than 18 lbs., and had since travelled more than 160 miles to the Southwest! Wildlife Alliance rangers handed her over to the turtle conservation team, which is keeping her secure while they conduct health checks and will soon release her back into the wild. This story highlights the critical role that good relationships with local people play in conservation and the importance of collaboration between various organizations, each of which is doing its part to ensure the survival of Cambodia’s wildlife.
In addition to saving this turtle, our rangers were hard at work patrolling during this period. Between July and August 2022, rangers from our 16 stations throughout the Cardamoms conducted a total of 1,172 patrols, including 177 night-time ambushes, covering almost 70,000 miles of terrain to keep the region’s forest protected and wildlife safe. These patrols resulted in:
During just a single patrol of Botum Sakor National Park in July, rangers from Trapeang Rung Patrol Unit removed 165 wildlife hunting snares and 5 meters of net snares! Each of these snares could have trapped a wild animal whose fate would have been a long slow death or misery in the wildlife trade.
Our rangers would not be able to achieve these kinds of results and keep Cambodian wildlife safe without the steadfast support of donors like you. Thank you so much!
Already 2022 has been a busy year for our rangers protecting wildlife in the Cardamoms. With the generous support of donors like you, between just January and April, rangers from 14 stations spread across the landscape patrolled almost 79,000 kilometers, removed more than 14,700 deadly snares from the forest, and rescued 147 live animals.
As with the sun bear rescue described in our previous report, some of the animals saved were removed directly from snares and would surely have died ensnared had our patrol teams not discovered them in time. Safely releasing frightened wild animals that are caught in hunting snares requires special tactics and patience to prevent injury. In mid-January, while conducting a long patrol, the Chhay Areng Patrol Unit found three common palm civets trapped in snares. The team spent 60 minutes carefully removing the civets from the snares. When the team searched the surrounding area, they found and removed a total of 520 snares. In March, during a long patrol the Trapeang Rung Patrol Unit found two wild boars in hunting snares. They were able to free the boars in 30 minutes. The team found a total of 68 snares in the surrounding area.
Net and bird traps also pose a threat to wildlife and the rangers removed over 2,000 meters of net traps during this period. During daily routine patrols the Koh Paor Patrol Unit rescued two turtles, a snake and a water dragon from net traps in February, and in April they rescued another two turtles from net traps. The wild animals were freed on site and the traps impounded. In March, the Chambak Patrol Unit confiscated 12 bird traps, rescued 8 unidentified wild birds and released them.
In addition to rescuing animals from unchecked snares and traps, rangers sometimes save animals already in the hands of hunters. In early March, the Stung Praot Patrol Unit was conducting a routine daily patrol inside a sugarcane area when they stopped a suspect riding a motorbike. Concealed underneath his jacket, the team found 12 unidentified wild birds that he had tied around his body to avoid being seen! The offender was arrested, brought to the Station, and paid a transactional fine of 1 million riel ($250 USD) in order to get back his motorbike. The birds were released the same day behind the Station. At the end of April, while patrolling along National Road 48, the Trapeang Rung Patrol Unit noticed a net bag abandoned on the road. The team checked and found a live Slow loris in the bag. Slow loris is an IUCN Red-Listed nocturnal primate. The animal was released back into natural habitat that same night.
Thank you so much for supporting our rangers’ work to protect Cambodian wildlife.
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