A Cambodian ranger on Saturday was named the recipient of World Wide Fund for Nature’s prestigious Dr Rimington Award for his significant contribution to the conservation of the Kingdom’s natural resources. His recognition came in conjunction with the World Ranger Day.
In a statement issued Saturday, WWF selected Sin Satha, a ranger from the WWF-supported Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary in Mondulkiri province, from among many rangers profiled worldwide in recognition of his high-level commitment to protecting the country’s forests, which is home to many endangered wildlife such as Asian elephants, Indochinese leopard, banteng, gaur, Eld’s deer and muntjac.
“This international award also honours his achievements to help save the ecosystems, at great risks, that local communities depend on for their livelihoods,” it said, noting the hazards that come with the job of being a ranger, including floods, fires, illnesses, dangerous animals and encounters with often-armed illegal loggers and poachers.
“WWF honours all of the dedicated rangers who risk their lives every day at the forefront of conservation and commends them for their commitment to the safeguarding of wildlife, their natural habitat and the forest and river ecosystems upon which we all depend,” WWF country director Seng Teak said.
With the celebration also came the WWF’s commemoration of the rangers who lost their lives while serving in the line of duty, as well as those who sustained injuries following hostile encounters with the very animals they swore to protect.
Among the fatalities within the past five years is a ranger who died from an on-the-job accident and three others who succumbed to illnesses contracted while at work.
“Our heartfelt condolences and thoughts are with their families,” Teak said.
Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said yesterday that park rangers are crucial in protecting the Kingdom’s natural resources from forestry crimes, especially wildlife poaching and deforestation.
“Our natural resources have survived and are better protected now because of the efforts of the rangers who go into the forests and travel through dangerous areas and uphill obstacles. Some have to carry their motorbikes to patrol the far-flung corners of the forests and monitor crimes in hard to reach areas,” he said.
Pheaktra added rangers have also cracked down on and prevented forestry crimes by removing snares and traps, confiscating hunting rifles and educating the local community about the significance of environmental conservation and sustainability.
The Kingdom currently has 1,260 rangers under the Ministry of Environment, all of whom are tasked with protecting 69 biodiversity corridors covering an area of about 7.3 million hectares.
During the first half of the year, rangers conducted 13,804 patrols and cracked down on 3,689 crimes.