Yin Ry, age 40, is one amongst five local tour guides for Tmatbouy Ecotourism Community Protected Area situated in Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary, Preah Vihear province. He used to poach wild animals, such as Red Muntjac, Monitor Lizard, Tortoise, and Wild Pig for meat because he was not aware of the importance of wildlife and its conservation. However since joining the WCS research team in 2001 then eco-tourism committee in 2005 he has since stopped all poaching activities after receiving training and a source of income to use his wilderness skills to benefit local wildlife by guiding tourists through the countryside that he knows so well.
“Previously, I was not aware that wild animals are important and globally rare until I joined WCS’s Research team in 2001 to conduct research on Giant ibis around Tmatbouy village,” said Yin Ry.
“During the research, first I laughed at WCS’s Research team when I saw they were so happy when they saw Giant ibis because I thought it was normal and nothing surprised as I saw those giant ibis birds almost every day. But, they told me that those giant ibises are globally rare and Critically Endangered. It is great that they are living in Tmatbouy. I was so surprised to hear that information, and started thinking how to protect them from extinction,” he added.
Yin Ry stopped poaching and informed other villagers to protect Giant Ibis, White-shouldered Ibis and other important wildlife around the village because those wild animals would provide advantages to the whole village. Because of his understanding and ambition to protect forests and wildlife, Yin Ry became a member of Tmatbouy Ecotourism Community Protected Area in 2005 and has since served as local tour guide. He is a very active and always participates in forest and wildlife protection activities, especially educating young generations to love wildlife and take part in natural resource management.
“I am proud to see local populations of Giant and White-shouldered ibises increase. I am so happy whenever tourists come Tmatbouy and see those ibises. Forest and wildlife rely on each other. So, we must protect both forests and wildlife,” said Yin Ry.