The Ministry of Environment said a standardised training programme for Cambodian rangers in collaboration with the US Department of State, US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the US Forest Service (USFS) has been postponed amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ministry spokesperson Neth Pheaktra told The Post on Sunday that the cooperation had begun in early 2018, with training courses provided to rangers under the theme “Go Safely and Return Safely”.
“This project was implemented last year with the participation of 20 rangers from the Koh Kong provincial Department of Environment. The first capacity building training provided by US experts for our rangers was held for nine days at the Bokor National Park,” he said.
The project aims to enhance the efficiency, protection and conservation of natural resources.
“This programme provides rangers with skills and know-how to stop illegal wildlife trafficking and logging in Cambodia’s protected areas while ensuring public safety in the country,” the US Embassy in Phnom Penh said on its Facebook page last week.
Pheaktra said the training focused on biodiversity, wildlife protection, primary treatment, studying of map and law enforcement, forest fire management, techniques for equipment maintenance and camping arrangement.
“We expect the US will assist the Ministry of Environment in providing training for all of our rangers,” he said.
The ministry currently employs 1,260 rangers and manages 60 protected areas covering more than 7.2 million hectares, which is equal to 41 per cent of Cambodia’s total land area.
It said more than 1,200 rangers are patrolling each protected natural area around the clock in collaboration with local authorities, NGOs, associations and local communities.
Earlier this month, the USAID and the ministry also launched the Greening Prey Lang project to promote the use of technology to conserve natural resources in Cambodia.
US Ambassador to Cambodia Patrick Murphy said rangers could not rely on traditional methods alone in conserving and protecting the vast protected natural areas from encroachment, logging and wildlife trafficking.
“The answer is technology. And our partnerships are bringing the tools of modern technology to do that kind of protection. We do not do it alone. There are many US government agencies involved, USAID, US Forest Service and even NASA,” he said.
“There’s also civil society. We’ve got great partnerships with really well-renowned organisations. We’re using technology in their work as well. We also have the private sector,” he said.
The Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary was established in May 2016 and covers 431,683ha across Stung Treng, Kratie, Kampong Thom and Preah Vihear provinces.