Walking through the forest surrounding the village of Chi Phat, you can hear the harrowing calls of pileated gibbons as they duet, feel the feel the power of a hornbill’s wings as it flies overhead, and see the scratches of a sun bear’s claws on a nearby tree. You would never guess that the area, seemingly teeming with wildlife, used to be rife with poaching. The return of wildlife to the area can be credited to an alternative livelihood program, empowering villagers to run an ecotourism program, and the implementation of a Community Anti-Poaching Unit. The community rangers are made up of mostly ex-hunters who now actively patrol the forest, guarding it from outside poachers and removing the biggest threat facing threatened mammals – snares.
The Community Anti-Poaching Unit is in the running to win a grant to continue their efforts and to employ two government officials, which would give the team the authority to fine and apprehend offenders. The grant will also support the construction of pre-release enclosures for animals that have been rescued from the illegal wildlife trade and are ready to return to the wild.
The grant comes down to a public vote, which closes at 8:00am EDT on Friday, March 23. To help the Community Anti-Poaching Unit continue their vital work in protecting threatened species from poaching, please vote for “Sustainable Livelihoods and Tourism, Cambodia”. Once you’ve voted, please share with your friends and family!