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Illegal loggers threaten Prey Lang patrol

Illegal loggers threaten Prey Lang patrol

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Villagers are pictured close to the timber they discovered while on a patrol in Prey Lang forest earlier this week. Photograph: Vanessa De Smet/Phnom Penh Post

The Prey Lang community patrol network faced threats from illegal loggers after reporting the loggers’ names to authorities, along with the discovery of more than 120 cubic metres of illegally felled timber and seven chainsaws, a patrol representative said yesterday. 

Chheang Vuthy, a community representative from Kampong Thom, said that at the end of the network’s forest patrol, he was forced to flee for his own safety after receiving several phone threats.

“They asked me many times to write a letter saying that my report is wrong, but I cannot do it,” he said. “I dare not stay at my home. I am afraid they will do something to me.”

During the five-day patrol, which ended on Monday, about 280 Prey Long villagers combed through Kampong Thom, Preah Vihear, Stung Treng and Kratie provinces for evidence of illegal logging, but they had been unable to meet as planned on Tuesday because heavy rain had prevented travel, Preah Vihear province community representative Phouk Hong said.

She said that after the patrol, her group had incinerated 15 cubic metres of timber and a chainsaw. She added that the chainsaw’s owner wanted it back, but no amount of bribery would convince the community to return it.

“Previously, we have always sent illegal machinery to local authorities, but it was always lost. So this time, we burned it,” she said.

Kampong Thom provincial governor Uth Sam Orn said he had not yet received the villagers’ report, but authorities were taking measures to prevent illegal logging.

“I have not received news about illegal loggers threatening villagers, so they should file a complaint to the authorities,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: May Titthara at [email protected]

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