A sweet, charismatic woman with an infectious smile, Tik breaks the stereotypical image of a forefront conservation defender. With a deep passion for wildlife and a strong background in environmental science, (she holds a bachelor’s degree in Forestry and a masters in Environmental Biology) Tik came to Freeland well equipped to delve into the challenges faced by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife & Plant Conservation (DNP) in defending Thailand’s vulnerable Eastern Forest Complex from an onslaught of wildlife poachers.
Working closely with the Superintendent of Thap Lan National Park, Tik’s role is unique. She works under Freeland’s Surviving Together program to help park staff manage a comprehensive database of the rangers’ patrols through the park. Signs of wildlife or poaching activities along patrol routes are recorded, allowing Tik to identify areas where wildlife may be at risk and request DNP officials to respond to possible threats by focusing patrols where most needed.
One example of how this system helps rangers protect the park’s flora and fauna took place in January, when a data assessment showed that certain areas of Thap Lan National Park were being neglected in patrols due to the hard mountainous terrain. The park chief sent a helicopter to drop the rangers into those remote areas to patrol, where they were able to arrest two wildlife poachers who had been operating there freely.
The main goal of Tik’s work with Freeland is to build capacity for the park rangers to conduct this data collection work independently. Before she began working in Thap Lan park headquarters, there was no system for managing patrol data, but due to the success of the database over the past few years, the rangers and park officials now see the benefit of collecting this data.
Tik’s advice for everyone who wants to do their part in protecting nature is to start with their personal choices. Don’t buy wildlife products and refrain from activities that negatively affect the environment. Donating funds, equipment or food supplies to park rangers is another way which people can support the rangers’ mission to protect wildlife on the ground.
Educating young people and building awareness about conservation is also crucial in protecting our ecosystem. Awareness that we live from our natural resources and that conservation is directly related to human life is crucial. That is just what Surviving Together is working on – promoting humans’ ability to live in harmony with nature.
The Surviving Together program works closely with protected area managers and rangers, as well as surrounding communities to achieve conservation goals. Program activities address the root causes of environmental degradation and obstacles to strengthen protection at the front lines of conservation. Furthermore, activities are designed to not only improve conservation, but to sustain it by investing in and empowering existing and emerging leaders in local communities and protected areas.