Secret storage depots for illegal timber hidden in the forest in Ratanakkiri’s O’Chum district were discovered by ethnic minority villagers on Friday, prompting a rights worker to suggest local officials were involved in the illicit trade.
Ethnic Kreung villagers in Cha Ung commune reported the find to the rights group Adhoc on Friday afternoon.
“We have seen two secret locations in the forest, including some 500 pieces of thnong timber,” Chhay Thy, Adhoc’s provincial coordinator, said.
Adhoc alerted the provincial Forestry Administration, which dispatched some of its officers to the site, he added.
“There are more places used to hide luxury timber and we continue finding them,” he said, adding that he believed local officials were complicit.
Pean Sovann, Cha Ung commune police chief, said he wasn’t aware of who was responsible for the logging.
Thnong trees are protected. The government’s Cambodian Tree Seed Project in 2000 said they were at risk of extinction if further measures to protect the species were not taken.