Home News News Boots on the ground – Vietnam and Thailand Project visit 

Boots on the ground – Vietnam and Thailand Project visit 

DSWF is privileged to have forged long-lasting relationships with our project partners in the field. Working together, we’ve been able to have an impact that can be measured in years, sometimes even decades.  

Fortunately, we’ve been able to send out three key members of our team to visit DSWF’s project partners, Save Vietnams Wildlife in Vietnam, and Freeland in Thailand. 

DSWF is proud to have funded Freeland for over 15 year and Save Vietnams Wildlife for 7 years! We believe collaboration is key to the success of these projects, and we are humbled to be so intrinsically involved with the species-saving work it enables. 

Visting these key projects is instrumental for our team to further understand how your money is being effectively used within these sometimes-volatile climates, which needs constant attention and active protection. 

Now arrived home safely, albeit a little jet lagged, our team are compressing and are currently sharing their extensive insights with the team. See below a few highlights from the team. 

Izzy – Digital Design Content Executive  

“My favourite part of the trip was joining our partners at Save Vietnam’s Wildlife with their ‘mock’ anti-poaching patrol. The ‘mock’ patrol consisted of walking three hours – instead of the full ten-hour patrol day, which we felt might be a couple of steps too far in 32-degree heat! This only makes our respect for the rangers even more significant, as they do not have the novelty of choice.   

To commence the patrol, we had to cling to the back of the rangers’ motorbikes and ride 20k on bumpy track roads into the National Park, enabling us to start off our patrol at an appropriate distance via foot.  

Immediately, the rangers tracked their location on their SMART (Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool) mobile technology, which is crucial for planning out their patrol, as they consider an abundance of data from poacher sightings and wildlife hotspots to map out the most relevant areas for patrolling. 

The patrol through the forest was mesmerising, walking through a beautiful canopy forest with the sun gleaming through the branches. Although, the thick forest made it difficult to keep your eyes focused on one place as you were constantly ducking and diving over the branches. The rangers were using a machete to clear a path, taking care to keep damage minimal to protect the forest environment and not leave a trail poachers could follow.  

The ranger’s fitness was outstanding, gliding through the forest at speed, weaving in and out, without so much as breaking a sweat, as well as keeping a keen eye out for any illegal activities. This was brought into sharp focus when we found the remains of a poacher camp, evident from signs of a fire and chopped bamboo, where the poachers had made space for a hammock. 

Highlighting this dangerous environment and the high risk of coming face-to-face with poachers (in which the rangers are not allowed to discharge their weapons – unless fired upon – UN rules of engagement). This further enforced their outstanding heroism to us.  

On a positive note, we were delighted to encounter many signs of wildlife, such as pangolin scratch marks on a tree and Civet and Elephant tracks. 

This experience showed me the ranger’s incredible passion and the sad reality that critically endangered species would not survive in their natural habitats without their protection!’ 

Mary – Chief Finance Officer 

‘I was delighted to join the team in Pang Sida National Park, Thailand, to check camera traps. A network of camera traps has been set up in the park to monitor wildlife, and occasionally poachers.

The cameras are checked every three months, SD cards removed and replaced, and batteries changed. We joined Freeland Manager, Tim, accompanied by a ranger, on the trek into the park to check seven cameras on our route. We push our way along a vague wildlife path through thick, dark, green forest, the tree canopy high above our heads. Within seconds there is no sign of the dirt track where we have left our vehicle (which is our emergency return point should anything go wrong) and I can only hear the crunching of dried leaves as we walk and the gentle noise of the jungle; calls, cries and rustling all around us.  

We arrive at a camera trap location to see a battle scarred metal box, securely padlocked to a tree, where the careful process of recording collection data, removing and checking the camera, extracting the precious SD card, changing batteries and reassembling all takes place.  This pause gives us the chance to look closely at our surroundings, the thick foliage carpet under our feet crawling with insects, huge spider webs, the immense trees reaching to the sky, wound with creepers.  

We come across a camera lower to the ground, aimed at a hollow tree perfect for a pangolin den. The tree has been destroyed. We check the SD card and see, two days earlier,  a sun bear on its hind legs tearing the tree to pieces in its search for termites.

Later, back at the ranger station, we excitedly look through the camera images. A tiger saunters past the camera, turns and peers into the lens.

A spine tingling moment.’ 

Tom – Trusts and Foundation Manager  

‘On the final day of our whirlwind visit to Thailand and Vietnam we were fortunate enough to take part in a conference and workshop to mitigate the snaring crisis that is ravaging wildlife within Thailand. 

Nearly 60 Park Directors, Anti-Poaching Rangers, Border Patrol Operatives, Police and Army personnel, Super-Intendants, Chiefs and conservationists came together to share experiences and ideas. The purpose? To come up with a collaborative, innovative and effective action plan to eliminate snares as a threat to wildlife within the Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex and beyond. 

What we were privileged to witness was a truly fantastic day of discussion and planning. Impassioned professional conservationists, whose motivation to solve these issues and create a safe environment for biodiversity was inspiring. 

We heard from operatives who have lived and worked in Dong Phayayen for 40 years, who are proud of the wildlife, wild spaces and globally important ecosystems that lie within the region. Ideas were shared, discussed, reviewed and actioned to ensure that all facets of law enforcement are working towards the same goal, from the same tactical gameplan to the betterment of the National Parks and the spaces around them. 

I have no doubt that, with the help and passion exuding from these brilliant conservationists, that the future of wildlife will be free of snares and needless deaths. 

It really was a remarkable insight into cross-jurisdictional cooperation. 

A huge thank you to Tim and Freeland for facilitating this event with the support of DSWF.’

We look forward to bringing you more exciting stories form our trip and what we achieved in the coming weeks. 

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Andrew White
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

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