Environment officers have been asked to investigate claims that from April 28 to May 5, activists found two locations where illegal logging took place in Pursat in the Cardamom Mountains.
Environmental activist Heng Sros said on Wednesday that he saw the actual forest offences at two locations where the illegal logging took place at the Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary and the Veal Thma Thom area. He claimed there was timber that had already been cut.
In these two regions, he added, 15 trucks were found.
“Workers used them to deliver timber to sell to Koh Sophy who is a major-general and Hay Thong, also known as Ta Thong. Both of them are notorious traders of timber in Pursat,” he alleged.
Sros said the workers told him they were employed to cut the timber and given 400,000 riel ($100) per cubic metre.
“The people who hired the workers are Ta Thong and Koh Sophy. Both of them are timber businessmen in Pursat province. [The workers] told me they paid a lot of money in exchange for logging the wood and delivering it,” he said.
However, Thong told The Post on Wednesday that he stopped his logging business a long time ago. He admitted that he used to cut wood delivered by motorbike for private people but he stopped after the company he worked for closed down.
“I quit this career already. I do not have [the money] to buy timber. I now raise cattle at home and I do not do anything else. People just accuse me. It is not nice. I used to work with a company a long time ago. The company was closed. I no longer work there,” he said.
Provincial Department of Environment director Pan Morakat also denied accusations of wrongdoing. He said his officers did not accept money from the offenders. After being made aware of the issue, he ordered his rangers to check the locations on Tuesday.
“Meanwhile, we do not know if it is true or not. We will investigate it to know whether the case is true,” he said, adding that he had heard accusations like this before.
“The locations that have been reported are very deep in the forest near Koh Kong province. I have never been there because we have to travel across the valley and it takes several days and nights to reach the area,” he said.
He said environment officers cannot collude with offenders to let them fell trees because they work closely with Wildlife Alliance and Conservation in the mountains.
He said he would report to the Ministry of Environment after he receives specific information from rangers who went to investigate the matter.