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For field researcher Vong, the best thing about his job is that he gets to work with dogs. The 25-year-old is a big fan of dogs, and got to work closely with them on a special project using sniffer dogs to find evidence of tigers in Cambodia’s Eastern Plains Landscape.
Best moment“I felt like I could communicate with them. It was the best moment of life,” said Vong, describing his experience on the project. “I love my research work but I dream that I will be able to work with dogs again.”
Vong often gets asked about his work from friends who cannot understand why he would want and enjoy sleeping in a hammock in the forest for a whole week. He is use to explaining to them that he is working to conserve wildlife.
Buoyed by forestsVong loves to escape to the forest from the noise and hustle and bustle of the town. “Seeing animals in this good landscape makes me very happy,” he said.
Frustrations of data collectionThe main challenges he faced in his work have to do with the difficulties in collecting data. Many people go into the forests for whatever reasons and their presence messes up the data collection, says Vong. “When they disturb our tests, it is very frustrating and more importantly, time consuming.”
The rainy season can also be quite challenging for Vong. Then, the roads become impossible and very often, he and his colleagues have to spend half a day cutting bamboo to make a bridge to help them cross the flooded roads. Said Vong: “That is half a day not collecting data!”
He is the future of conservationMark Wright, WWF Eastern Plains Landscape manager, has said that Vong represents the future of conservation research in Cambodia. When told this, Vong smiled from ear to ear and said: “It makes me feel so proud. I will try to work hard to improve myself so that I can be the future of conservation. I need to learn much more in order to make this statement true.”
► Interview: Vong talks about his work
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I tell [people] about how good it is to work with the animals and nature. I explain to them why we need to conserve the animals. I tell them of the past when we used to have Kouprey and many, many tigers and elephants and that now the forests are silent. I tell them about other countries, like India for example, where they have many, many young researchers.