The Ministry of Environment sought permission from the Ministry of National Defence to arm municipal and provincial rangers with 1,210 rifles in response to one of its rangers being killed and two others critically assaulted while out on patrol in Mondulkiri and Kampong Thom provinces.
In its annual report released on Monday, the ministry stressed that the rangers would be required to attend training from relevant military officials on how to properly control, maintain, use, and patrol with and use the firearms after they are issued.
Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra told The Post on Tuesday: “Three rangers were victimised by natural resources criminals . . . the weapons will be used when rangers are on patrol to enhance their efficiency as they work to protect Cambodia’s natural resources and biodiversity.
Chak Sochet, 30, was hacked five times with a machete in the head, arm and neck when he and four other rangers were patrolling the Prey Ang Ten biodiversity conservation corridor in Kampong Thom province in March.
Just three months earlier, six rangers were forced into a gunfight with a group of poachers while patrolling the Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary in Mondulkiri province, resulting in Cheng Chanthy, 37, being shot in his right thigh.
Both Socheat and Chanthy survived the attacks.
The Ministry of Environment is charged with the protection of 57 areas, including 12 national parks and 20 wildlife sanctuaries nationwide measuring 7,249,024ha.
The rifles the rangers are to receive are single-fire, bolt-action ‘CKC’ rifles based on Soviet designs of the SKS rifle used during World War II.
Natural Resource and Wildlife Preservation Organisation head Chea Hean told The Post that rangers needed to be given firearms for their protection while out on patrol.
“It also encourages rangers to fulfil their duties more efficiently. When rangers do not have weapons with them, they could be attacked by criminals,” Hean said.