The Area: History
Human history haunts site of new ranger headquarters
Evidence can also be found of America's covert bombing raids launched on Cambodia, despite its neutrality, in a vain attempt to disrupt the Vietnamese as they marched south along the Ho Chi Minh Trail just 20km from here. Huge bomb craters still scar the site and the remains of rudimentary bomb shelters are scattered across the landscape.
An immaculate location from all anglesAt first the staff of the Srepok Wilderness Area Project were reluctant to build on this legacy, and alternative locations were considered. But their predecessors had good reason for choosing this particular site. First and perhaps foremost, it is located beside the Srepok River, a source of not only essential water but, potentially, hydroelectricity as well. But while near the river, the site is still back far enough and on high enough ground to avoid being flooded during the heavy rainy season when the river swells and much of the forest is inundated.
Work gets underwayThese attributes could not be ignored, and project staff conceded that the site had been tried and tested true. Construction of buildings began in early March 2004. In line with the project's objective of providing livelihoods for people living in the vicinity of the protected area, a local contractor was hired to build the ranger station and other staff buildings, one of which will eventually accommodate the tourists who will come to this remote area to watch birds, fish and see some of the large mammals that still roam this forest.
Building houses for rangers...The first priority, however, was housing for the rangers. They can spend weeks at a time patrolling the forest, away from their families, sleeping in the open each night in hammocks. It is vital for good morale that their accommodation at headquarters is at least comfortable. The project's technical advisor, Martin von Kaschke chose not to replicate the South African model where rangers sleep together in military-style barracks. He thought each ranger should have his own private space, so the rangers' accommodation was constructed with as many small rooms as possible.
... in the Khmer style