Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Inferno destroys 1,000 hectares of forest; wildlife in danger

Inferno destroys 1,000 hectares of forest; wildlife in danger

Inferno destroys 1,000 hectares of forest; wildlife in danger

A weekend fire in Battambang and Banteay Meanchey still blazed

Wednesday, putting the area's flooded forests and fish refuges at risk.

FIRES have burned through more than 1,000 hectares of the Tonle Sap's flooded forests, and the inferno was still spreading, according to Chet Sameth, Ek Phnom's district police chief.

"We don't know the cause of the fire, but we suspect it was caused by people looking for honey," he said, explaining that people in the area often light fires to smoke bees out of their hives to gain access to their honeycombs.

The forest fire started in Preah Net Preah in Banteay Meanchey but spread into Ek Phnom district in Battambang on Saturday, where the fire detonated at least seven unexploded artillery shells in the forest, accelerating the fire's spread.

"It [the forest] is too dry and we had no rain for two weeks, so it is burning very fast, [and] no one can stop it," Chet Sameth said.

The fire was hitting a wilderness area that is vaunted for its biodiversity, according to Chet Sameth, and the fire was putting animals at risk.

"Turtles and snakes are easily killed by the fire. We are losing wildlife from this fire, and we are losing fish refuges," Chet Sameth said.

The area is also an important fish breeding ground, said Heng Pisith, chief of the Fisheries Administration in Battambang province.

"It affects the fish because they lose their places [to spawn]," said Heng Pisith, adding, "Every year, we always ask during the dry season on the radio for people not to burn the forest to try and prevent any big fires."

Chet Sameth said the fire damaged one house but was extinguished, and no casualties have been reported due to preventive measures taken by villagers. In Bak Prea village, people have already moved their cows and buffaloes to safer places to avoid the fire.

"Fires happen every year," he said. "Normally, they are much smaller, but this year it is a big one."

Cheam Chan Saphon, the director of Battambang's Agriculture Department, expressed his regrets and said agriculture had "nothing to do with [worsening the fire] because it is nature."

MOST VIEWED

  • US names new ambassador to Cambodia

    US President Donald Trump on Friday appointed W Patrick Murphy as the new US Ambassador to Cambodia, replacing incumbent William A Heidt. A press release posted on the White House’s website said nominee W Patrick Murphy is currently acting principal deputy assistant secretary at

  • Kingdom is at a crossroads between East, West after poll

    It was dubbed a success by caretaker prime minister Hun Sen after the electoral victory of his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which is poised to take all seats in the National Assembly. But the July 29 national election has not been positively looked at by

  • Chinese influence to sweep Kingdom?

    Growing Cambodia-China ties have seen the latter’s influence sweep across the Kingdom through increased investments and tourism. The Asian giant has become the leading source of foreign funds in Cambodia, fuelling the construction sector with huge casino and hotel projects. Much of the growth

  • Western poll flak is ‘pressure to take the Kingdom hostage’

    After last month’s national elections brought praise for the orderly manner they were run and managed, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) spokesman Sok Eysan dismissed criticism from the West as a “violation of the Kingdom’s independence”. He said the attitude of