Village elders take on illegal logging in Cambodia

Published November 2018

Morning view over Cambodia.

Cambodia (Photo Image by mtarlock is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

At the edge of the Chom Penh forest, part of the 242,500-hectare Beng Per Wildlife Sanctuary on the northern plains of Cambodia, a group of mostly tribal elders - from the Koi indigenous minority - have tasked themselves with defending the forests that provide them with food and income. 

This self-appointed forest patrol is a key line of defence when most indigenous people have been reduced to bystanders as their ancestral forests are felled.


Members of the Koi indigenous people of Cambodia

The poaching and wildlife trade problem

Species affected Timber Species

The strategy

Strengthening disincentives for illegal behaviour

Un-paid (voluntary) community scouts
Strengthening and supporting traditional norms and sanctions against IWT
Further detail

The self-appointed rangers and a mission to stop Chom Penh from being pillaged, and they use a combination of education, scolding and threats.

When timber-poachers are encountered the community rangers deliver an "impassioned scolding": "Do you understand how important the forest is to your people ... Have you forgotten who you are?". The poachers are then escorted back to the villages where they are either handed to the police (for example, if they have tried to escape), or are 'punished' by getting 'a vocal beatdown' from a local elder they know, fear and respect.

Sometimes former poachers join the patrol team.

Organisers, donors and partners

For further information contact ().