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.