Following the journey of former poachers turned into forest rangers, Cardamom Mountains

A photo-essay focused on environmental awareness and the empowerment work the local NGO Wildlife Alliance is implementing in Koh Kong province, Cambodia, a region suffering from deforestation due to illegal logging and endangerment of many of its endemic species due to poaching.

The project follows former poachers, now trained and employed by Wildlife Alliance to work as forest rangers, providing a glimpse of their daily life in the jungle during one of their regular five-days patrols. They are one of the many hidden faces of climate change heroes.

I like to be a ranger and enjoy to protect the animals and nature for the next generation.”

Before I was a hunter as well, coming to the forest with my dog in search of animals like civets and pangolins, bears, deers or wild boards.”

Occasionally we have problems with the people when we arrest someone from our village, the family gets angry with us. I explain them that I’m following the law, this is the Cambodian law.”

It can be hard, for example when we confiscate a chainsaw from a neighbor who is an illegal logger and I have to explain that’s my job.”

Forests give us jobs with ecotourism. We are poor so when tourists come our village can benefit.”

Before being a ranger I used to come to the jungle to try to find anything I could sell, like mahogany tree, resin or mushrooms. Also some small animals like monitor lizards.”

Sometimes we have problems because hunters have guns and we don’t, we feel scared to do the patrol.”

Our job can be really hard, for our health or relationships in the village, many people don’t understand why we do this.”

“Also the weather can make our job risky, with heavy rains or wind making trees in the jungle to collapse.”

It’s important to protect the forest because we are in a wildlife sanctuary.”

Nature give us water and clean air, and protect us from the climate.”

I want to keep alive animals like the sun bear or the pangolin for the young people to see, because they are almost extinct.”

Sometimes the locals come to my house to curse me but I don’t care, I do what I want to do and accordingly to the law.”

“The forest provides us home to live, we need to protect it.”

Thanks to Mr. Koun, 39, Mr. Rith, 39, Mr. Sean, 44, Mr. Meuon, 58, Mr. Sok Out, 53, Mr. Ngeth, 52, and Mr. Rattanak, 36, for making this photography project possible and all their hard work and passion to protect nature.