The cover-story of the November issue of Geographical Magazine, the magazine of The Royal Geographical Society in the UK, is a story I shot in Cambodia. Set in the Cardamon Mountains in the west of the country this story is about illegal sassafras oil distilleries that have been threatening this most pristine of forests. Sassafras oil, once distilled from the wood of huge mreah prew trees, can be used to produce a number of different products ranging from toothpaste to the dance drug ecstasy. It is the later use that has caused the price of this oil to rocket and as a result hundreds of illegal distilleries have been working in this remote forest to produce the oil and then illegally smuggle it out of the country to Vietnam where it is processed.
Over the years local forest rangers part-funded and trained by the UK conservation NGO Fauna and Flora International (FFI) have been tracking these distilleries, and once found they are destroyed and the culprits arrested. I joined the rangers to seek out these distilleries.