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The wedding was just ending when the motorbike chase began.

Rangers had arrested Meng Sotear, a 62-year-old rice and cashew farmer, ordered her aboard a motorbike and raced towards their headquarters 10 kilometres down a dirt road in one of Cambodia’s remotest valleys. Calling an abrupt end to the festivities, local chief Huang Pou and some 40 other wedding guests leapt aboard their own machines and raced to intercept.

The resulting confrontation, which took place in 2021 and saw Meng freed by her neighbours, was just one of a series of clashes between villagers and rangers at the Southern Cardamom reserve, home to one of the world’s flagship carbon offsetting projects.

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