Fortress conservation in Wildlife Alliance’s Southern Cardamon REDD+ Project: evictions, violence, and burning people’s homes. “We’re proud of our work. The forest, the wildlife, you come to feel they’re yours.”

“Our project has been successful because we have developed and implemented an approach to defending the forest that meets the threat level with a truly effective response,” Suwanna Gauntlett, chief executive of Wildlife Alliance, recently told Gerald Flynn, a freelance journalist working in Cambodia.

Gauntlett was talking about the Southern Cardamom REDD+ Project, that covers an area of almost 450,000 hectares in Koh Kong province in the southwest of Cambodia. The REDD project started in 2015 in partnership with Wildlife Works and Cambodia’s Ministry of Environment. The project covers parts of the Southern Cardamom National Park and Tatai Wildlife Sanctuary.

Wildlife Alliance has 98 forest rangers and 25 anti-poaching officers. Gauntlett told Flynn about the more than 5,100 patrols carried out in 2020. Patrols can last six to eight days. In 2020, Gauntlett said, Wildlife Alliance’s rangers stopped 140 attempted land grabs, seized 663 timber trafficking vehicles, confiscated 1,720 illegal chainsaws, shut down nine illegal sawmills, resucued 500 live wild animals from traps, and removed something like 28,000 snares from the Cardamom forest.

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Chris Lang