A patrol by Wildlife Alliance rangers last week at Roveang station was a reminder that the threat posed by wildlife poachers is very much real. The rangers seized an AK-47 assault rifle with live ammunition, along with 4 chainsaws and metal snares, that were being held by an offender. The seized arsenal of hunting gear also included a set of machetes; strong evidence that the offender was using the weapons to hunt wildlife that will most likely be consumed in Cambodia or sent onto a middleman for trafficking onto Vietnam or China.
Homemade guns are commonly seized by the rangers, with Wildlife Alliance seizing more than 700 guns since the establishment of the Cardamom Rainforest Protection program in 2002. This is not the first confiscation of an assault rifle, such as an AK-47, but it is a reminder that some offenders are carrying weapons that pose far more of a threat than normally poorly constructed homemade guns capable of firing only one round at a time. Assault rifles, such as AK-47s, can be used by offenders as part of their intimidation tactics, for example, firing rounds into the air whilst being pursued by rangers.
The assault rifle will be far from the last confiscated by Wildlife Alliance’s rangers as they continue to protect almost 1.5 million hectares of the Cardamom Rainforest Landscape from the threat of wildlife trafficking and deforestation. The confiscated weapons demonstrate the importance of highly effective law enforcement, including rigorous ranger training to ensure rangers are equipped to deal with any challenges they face in their line of work.