Forest rangers and officials from a conservation watchdog briefly detained seven men in Kampong Speu province’s Oral district yesterday for illegally clearing land in the protected Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary.
Chea Hean, director of the Natural Resources and Wildlife Preservation Organization (NRWPO), said his NGO worked in coordination with rangers from the Environment Department to apprehend the seven men for clearing a 50-metre-by-50-metre patch of land in the sanctuary.
The seven were caught in possession of chainsaws, axes and other cutting implements, and were stopped by rangers and taken into custody for questioning. “We questioned them for more than 10 minutes and forced them to sign a contract promising not to commit the crime against,” Hean said.
Hean added that the men, residents of Kampot and Takeo, claimed to have been employed to clear the land but fled the scene on foot immediately after thumbprinting the document before revealing the name of their alleged employer.
The crackdown comes after NRWPO and Wildlife Alliance signed a memorandum of understanding with the Environment Ministry earlier this month to coordinate patrols in multiple provinces.
During yesterday’s patrol, rangers also found 7 cubic metres of timber in the same sanctuary, though officials had yet to determine its source or owner.