Forests and wildlife near Pailin province’s O’Tavao Waterfall are being threatened by local deforestation and hunting, officials said yesterday.
According to a Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation (MJP) patrol team and environmental officers, a survey on Friday revealed many huge trees illegally felled, over 100 scattered animal traps and a concealed chainsaw and a five-litre canister of gasoline.
“There are [highly trafficked] areas where timbers have just been logged. But the offenders were not seen; they had gone,” said Chan Socheat, an operational officer of MJP who patrolled the area.
The offenses took place between 500 metres and 1 kilometre from O’Tavao Waterfall, said Socheat, who suspects the offenders to be local residents employed to log timber, including koki and chan tompaing trees.
Socheat said the inconspicuous traps were positioned to snare iguanas, deer, anteaters and other species.
More than 500 families live adjacent to O’Tavao Waterfall, according to Kem Sokha, director of Pailin Environmental Department.
He said it is common for villagers to track forestry patrol teams, and wait for an opportunity to harvest natural resources unobserved.
“The perpetrators are not from the far flung areas. When we are a bit careless, they enter the areas,” he said, adding his team is now attempting to repair the damage.
“Sooner or later, if they continue, we will know and clamp down.”