Conservation Group, Gov’t To Sign Ranger Pact

The US-based conservation group WildAid will sign an agreement with the Ministry of Envi­ronment this morning to begin training rangers in Bokor National Park to patrol for poachers.

The rangers will also be taught how to monitor wildlife populations in the area and teach nearby residents about the need to conserve wildlife.

WildAid plans to establish a tiger conservation program in one of the country’s protected areas, possibly Phnom Kulen northeast of Siem Reap.

“We want to do it quite quickly, because at the rate they’re being poached, there’s not going to be any left in two or three years,” said Suwanna Gauntlett, president of WildAid.

Patrolling the forests for hunters will be the most important element of both programs.

“Poaching is so rampant that a sense of urgency needs to be instilled,” Gauntlett said. “You have to start arresting people and fining them so they understand it’s not all right.”

Individual hunters and bands of well-armed poachers have been steadily depleting Cambo­dia’s wildlife populations.

Gauntlett declined to say wheth­er the rangers would be armed. Lay Khim, head of the protected areas office, said weapons training may be part of the program.

WildAid has tiger conservation programs in Burma, Thailand and Siberia.

In Thailand’s Khao Yai Nation­al Park, 30 rangers were trained in conducting investigations, patrol­ling for poachers, making arrests, monitoring wildlife and teaching conservation. WildAid arranged to supply them with uniforms, vehicles, global positioning satellite systems and camping supplies.

The program would be similar in Cambodia, said Steven Galster. co-director of WildAid. WildAid will be working with the Wildlife Con­­ser­vation Society, as it does in Thailand.

The training of Bokor rangers will begin in December. Galster said currently rangers in Bokor respond to reports of poaching, but do not patrol the park, and there are no outreach or wildlife monitoring programs.

The rangers will patrol by foot, motorcycle or truck. “If you get them out in the forest, poachers will leave the area,” Galster said.

“There’s way too much hunting and trafficking going on,” he said. “Wildlife populations can recover, but they need a reprieve.”









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