Europe

Defender of Cambodia's dwindling forests wins Goldman Prize

  • In this Feb. 3, 2016 photo, Cambodian environmentalist Ouch Leng speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. Ouch Leng, a former government official who has spent two decades helping poor villagers fight poaching of precious tropical forests, is among this year's winners of the $175,000 Goldman Environmental Prize.  (AP Photo/Elaine Kurtenbach)

    In this Feb. 3, 2016 photo, Cambodian environmentalist Ouch Leng speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. Ouch Leng, a former government official who has spent two decades helping poor villagers fight poaching of precious tropical forests, is among this year's winners of the $175,000 Goldman Environmental Prize. (AP Photo/Elaine Kurtenbach)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Feb. 3, 2016 photo, Cambodian environmentalist Ouch Leng speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. Ouch Leng, a former government official who has spent two decades helping poor villagers fight poaching of precious tropical forests, is among this year's winners of the $175,000 Goldman Environmental Prize. (AP Photo/Elaine Kurtenbach)

    In this Feb. 3, 2016 photo, Cambodian environmentalist Ouch Leng speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. Ouch Leng, a former government official who has spent two decades helping poor villagers fight poaching of precious tropical forests, is among this year's winners of the $175,000 Goldman Environmental Prize. (AP Photo/Elaine Kurtenbach)  (The Associated Press)

A former Cambodian government official who has spent two decades helping villagers fight poaching of precious tropical forests is among this year's winners of the $175,000 Goldman Environmental Prize.

Ouch Leng (ook leng) travels into forests armed only with a camera and a GPS locator, tracking illegal loggers. At times he works undercover by cooking for loggers, hauling cargo on docks or posing as a tourist. Lately his attention has focused on a conflict between villagers and a Chinese company developing a massive resort.

A fellow environmentalist says Leng is among just a few people fighting forest destruction in Cambodia. At least five people who opposed illegal logging have been killed since 2007.

Other winners of the Goldman Prize announced Monday are from Slovakia, Peru, Tanzania, Puerto Rico and Maryland.