Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Environmentalists barred from Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary



Environmentalists barred from Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary

Environmentalists gather yesterday to put up posters bearing anti-logging messages in Preah Vihear’s Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary.
Environmentalists gather yesterday to put up posters bearing anti-logging messages in Preah Vihear’s Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary. Photo supplied

Environmentalists barred from Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary

A group of six environmentalists, including the Goldman Prize-winning Ouch Leng, were banned yesterday from accessing the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary in Preah Vihear province, where they had hoped to investigate illegal logging and hang banners bearing anti-logging messages.

At the same time, Leng said yesterday, rangers did nothing to stop dozens of mini-tractors from entering the area to allegedly haul illegal timber, an act he characterised as “hiding forestry crimes”, though authorities yesterday denied the allegations.

Leng said his group had placed stickers and banners at the entrance to Prey Lang in Chey Sen district and were moving forward into Prey Lang when environmental rangers, accompanied by sanctuary Deputy Director Chin Monorith, stopped them.

After the group was questioned, Monorith would not allow them to take “even a step” inside the sanctuary, saying they did not have a permission letter from local authorities. In addition, Leng said, rangers said they were afraid that the group would conduct political activities.

“Tractors went in and out, but there was no problem [for them]. We saw many crimes,” Leng said. “They do not want us to place the stickers and enter because they want to protect the crimes. It is the restriction of environmental work.”

Leng said his team had placed hundreds of anti-logging stickers and banners in forests around the country, and had encountered no resistance in the past.

After yesterday’s incident, the activists issued a statement accusing the rangers of taking bribes from loggers and timber traders to turn a blind eye to the trade.

However, Monorith, the sanctuary deputy director, denied the allegation, accusing Leng of failing to specify the purpose of his team’s visit and lacking permission from local authorities.

“We asked them to work together [with us]. Our team is waiting to welcome them around the clock if they actually have a willingness to preserve the natural resources,” Monorith said.

He added that there was no forestry crime in the area, and said the tractors Leng accused of transporting timber had actually entered the area to transport rice during the harvest season.

Restrictions on activist patrols in Prey Lang were raised at an environmental protection forum last week, with Prey Lang Community Network activists complaining to Environment Minister Say Sam Al about requirements to inform authorities ahead of patrol.

Sam Al, for his part, suggested community members work with local rangers for safety reasons.

MOST VIEWED

  • Seven positive for Covid-19, Hun Sen confirms local transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that there has been local community transmission of Covid-19. However, he urged the people not to panic even though the Ministry of Health announced the discovery of seven new cases on Sunday. Among the victims are Chhem Savuth, the director-general

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • PM confirms community transmission, calls for unity

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on the public to stay calm, unite and follow the Ministry of Health guidelines after the wife of a senior official tested positive for Covid-19 in the Kingdom’s first case of community transmission. The case has drawn criticism

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • PM vows to protect Hun family

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue his fight against opposition politicians who he said intend to smash the Hun family. Without naming the politicians but apparently referring to former leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Hun Sen said there

  • Cambodia lauded for fight against Covid-19

    Cambodia has drawn global accolades for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a new report finding that the Kingdom has controlled the pandemic better than any other country in Asia. Dr Takeshi Kasai, director of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Western Pacific region,