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He has killed 3 tigers, 4 male elephants and “a lot” of female elephants. Meet ex-poacher turn tiger protector Lean Nhor. Since 2000, working as a forest guard, Lean Nhor protects wildlife found in the Mondulkiri Protected Forest.
Wrong side of the law“I began poaching in 1979 when I was a soldier because I lacked food and knowledge,” said Lean Nhor of his past as a poacher. “Tigers and Asian elephants were my poaching targets because they could be sold at a high price.”
Lean Nhor, 43, didn’t know that it was illegal to poach wild animals. His brother, who had stopped poaching and gone to work for WWF, advised him to do likewise as otherwise he would be arrested. But Lean Nhor didn’t stop straightaway as he thought no one cared about wild animals.
Conversion to wildlife defenderHe finally stopped after his brother took pains to explain to him that hunting wild animals had been made illegal and that the Cambodian government had begun working with an NGO – WWF – to conserve wildlife. His brother then helped secure him a job with WWF.
"Pity for poached animals"Since he started working with WWF in 2000, Lean Nhor has been trained and educated on the importance of wildlife. Armed with this knowledge, he now feels pity whenever he sees a poached animal.
Asked what is his favourite animal, Lean Nhor’s reply is the banteng, an endangered wild cattle species, which also is a tiger prey. It is one species that he gets to see while patrolling. Other species he often sees as well include the muntjac, wild pig and gaur.
Despite earning a low salary, which he says is not sufficient to support his family, Lean Nhor appreciates his work and is committed to protecting Cambodia’s wildlife.
► Find out more about Lean Nhor
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#21, St. 322, Boeung Keng Kang I,
Phnom Penh P.O. Box 2467
Confessions of an ex-poacher
Before I made a lot of money from poaching, but I did not feel good. Now I get less money, but I am happy with my achievements. I am part of the forest protection efforts. If I stop working, no one will continue my work to protect wildlife here and the next generation of Khmers will not have the opportunity to see it.