When we first learned of it, we wondered why this concept was not implemented in more locations with similar poaching problems. Now we see it:
Deep in the Southern Cardamom Mountains, former loggers and poachers have assumed new roles as protective rangers and ecotourism guides. Can their efforts help preserve a vast stretch of wilderness?
We were seated near a lush river in the Southern Cardamom Mountains, huddled over a lunch of chicken and rice, when the tip came in via text message: Someone had passed along the location of a poaching camp.
Within minutes, the entire group — including Darian Thackwell, the head ranger, and four of his armed team members — was rushing upstream. Eventually we hid our boat between a maze of mangroves and continued by foot, trudging our way as silently as possible through the thick vegetation.
For four days I’d been shadowing a group of men who patrol a region of this vast Cambodian rainforest, protecting the terrain and its wild animals from the relentless threats of illegal loggers and poachers. Deep in the remote southwestern province of Koh Kong, near the Thai border, we’d waded through rivers, gotten bogged down in the jungle and battled both the leeches and the unbearable humidity.
Now, the team of men employed by the Wildlife Alliance, a conservation group, was finally closing in on the poachers.
As we moved through the jungle, we found several homemade snares, of a kind typically used to catch civets or other small mammals. Darian guessed the poachers might not be too far. But then we reached what looked like a camp abandoned in haste: Hammocks, canned food, clothes and even two homemade guns had been left behind. I snapped a few photographs while the rangers dismantled the camp, confiscating the weapons and the snares…
Read the whole story here.