Asia’s nature guardians upskill

What would you do if you were entrusted with the protection of some of Asia’s largest remaining tracts of natural forest and rarest endemic species?

It’s a daunting task, which is why FREELAND is helping protected area managers learn all the skills they need to protect critical ecosystems with limited resources.

Twenty-five of these ‘nature guardians’ representing eleven Asian countries trained together intensively under FREELAND’s expert instructors and exchanged best-practice approaches during the second half of this month at Thailand’s Khao Yai National Park.

Covering staff training, resource management and patrol planning, the training focused on helping senior park officials develop their abilities to counter poaching and monitor and adapt to trends in crimes that impact their parks.

Understanding patrol challenges and tactics

Wildlife and forests throughout Asia are under fierce attack by poachers, traffickers and illegal loggers. Poaching gangs are plundering the region’s forests to supply larger trafficking syndicates with everything from tigers, leopards, bears, pangolins (scaly anteaters) and elephant ivory, to plants and timber, such as orchids, aloe wood, rosewood, and other valuable timber species.

With finite resources available for park protection, targeted patrolling and law enforcement is critical to saving these species and habitat.

Participants hailed from Bhutan, China, Cambodia, Indonesia, India, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. Four women completed the training with flying colors, proving their effectiveness in this usually male dominated role.

Ready to protect Asia's natural heritage

The program wrapped up with a visit to FREELAND’s nearby community outreach program that promotes organic mushroom farming as a sustainable and reliable livelihood for impoverished villagers vulnerable to recruitment as poachers.

This training was supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity, and regional law enforcement networks.

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