The Documentation Centre of Cambodia’s Sleuk Rith Motion Picture yesterday launched a film ‘Jungle Guard’ which showcases the efforts of the Monk Community Forest project to protect indigenous wildlife and natural resources in the Anlong Veng forests, the last Khmer Rouge stronghold along Cambodia’s remote northern border.
The film was screened at Wat Langka pagoda in Phnom Penh yesterday.
Jungle Guard is a documentary film that portrays the life of a unique Buddhist monk community that voluntarily assumed the role of protector of a large parcel of natural forest and its indigenous wildlife, fish and related resources. The forest, known as the Monk Community Forest, is located in Anlong Veng district in Oddar Meanchey province.
Makara Ouch, Sleuk Rith director, said that the film describes the role of monk Venerable Bun Saluth who sacrificed a lot to protect the forest’s resources when it was still a battlefield between remnants of the Khmer Rouge and government forces which captured Anlong Veng in late 1998.
“Our purpose to film Jungle Guard is to showcase the work of Venerable Bun Saluth who made many sacrifices to protect the forest in Anlong Veng which was the last stronghold of the Khmer Rouge,” he said.
Mr Ouch said that after the fighting ended in 1998, Ven Saluth started a project to rehabilitate the forest and transformed the former battleground into a beautiful and peaceful area.
“Another reason why we made the film is to inform the public about the work of monks to protect the forest in Anlong Veng and raise awareness, especially among the younger generation, about the need to protect forests and the environment,” he added.
Mr Ouch noted that his team took about a year to produce the film.
Ven Saluth, founder of the Monk Community Forest project, yesterday said that he is happy that DC-CAM made the film which would help to encourage monks nationwide to join in activities to protect the Kingdom’s forests and natural resources.
He noted that monks from other provinces had joined the Monk Community Forest project.
“There are about 100 monks in my pagoda and they take turns to patrol the protected forest,” Ven Saluth said. “This film is very important because it will encourage monks to instruct the people to love the forests and wild animals.”
He added that forest clearing activities have declined by about 80 percent, since 2008, in the Anlong Veng area which is protected by the monks.
Ven Saluth noted that the monks have been facing increasing challenges to protect the forest since 2008 because rising land prices encourage people to illegally occupy and clear forest land.
In April 2018, Prime Minister Hun Sen signed a sub-decree creating a new wildlife sanctuary called Sangrukhavoan wildlife sanctuary, covering 30,254 hectares in Oddar Meanchey province, which encompasses Anlong Veng and Chongkal districts and Samraong city.