The Bunong ethnic community in Mondulkiri province has asked that environment officials remove land markers at the Nam Lear Wildlife Sanctuary near the Tuol Svay environmental headquarters. They also urged officials to take legal action against those who planted them.
Provincial forest activist Kroeung Tola told The Post on Tuesday that the land in question covered 1,000-2,000ha in the wildlife sanctuary near Mega First Plantation (Cambodia) Ltd in Dak Dam commune’s Pou Les village in O’Raing district.
Thirty to 40 markers had been planted on the land and many others had secretly been planted in the forest with the intent of stealing land, he said.
Tola said some markers had been planted last year while others were planted this year, about 150m from the Tuol Svay environmental headquarters but officials had turned a blind eye and didn’t remove them.
He said he had recently seen environmental officials going to remove some markers, but those were about 400m from the headquarters.
“For some reason, they don’t seem to see the markers planted near their headquarters. We wonder why they haven’t removed them. It may be because they belong to environmental officials, police officials or soldiers,” he claimed.
Nam Lea Wildlife Sanctuary director Vuth Sarom denied that the markers belonged to environment officials or that they had turned a blind eye or a deaf ear in regards to the case.
Sarom said the markers weren’t removed because of a shortage of personnel. “We removed the markers step-by-step, but it is just that at the Tuol Svay and Kong Rolang headquarters, there are only four environment officials.
“When we gather a joint force to patrol and remove markers at the Kong Rolang headquarters, we leave only one official at the Tuol Svay headquarters.
“We didn’t patrol it because it has been raining these past few days. It is not that we don’t do this work ... it is our obligation to do so.
“Tola only identifies the negative points. It is not that we don’t see them [the markers]. We gather forces first and then we launch a plan to remove them,” he claimed.
Sarom said some markers were located on Mega First Plantation’s land and some were in the wildlife sanctuary. He claimed that the indigenous people secretly planted the markers.
Most of them are Cambodian-Muslim residents who planted the markers in recent weeks, he claimed.
Chroch Khloeut, an indigenous resident in Pou Les village rubbished Sarom’s claims. He said the indigenous people’s plantations in the village were located along a stream, many kilometres from the locations where the markers were planted.
He said the indigenous people have access to the locations and rely on forest produce for their livelihoods. He added that those who planted the markers are land brokers who historically stole state land.