A large haul of timber believed to have been illegally logged from the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary in Kampong Thom province has been impounded after being discovered by authorities after a tip-off by local media.
Some 114 large logs were discovered in Kampong Thom’s Santuk district by local authorities on Tuesday afternoon. All had been impounded at the Kampong Thma Forestry Administration office by early Wednesday.
Acting on the tip-off, dozens of officials from the Forestry Administration and commune police, with the approval of district authorities, searched an agricultural area in Santuk district’s Kampong Thma commune, discovering the illegal timber on Tuesday afternoon, according to Mom Sophal, director of the Kampong Thma Forestry Administration office.
Sophal said officials did not find the perpetrators.
“We impounded the haul as state property. We completed the transport of timber to my office over night. Will measure it to know the exact size of the haul in cubic metres,” Sophal said.
The logs were clearly transported to the site from elsewhere as there are no forests in the area, he added.
“No one has come forward to claim ownership of the timber. It is suspected the loggers gathered the timber there and were attempting to sell it to a timber trader, but we found the haul in time,” he said.
Thorng Samtheach, Kampong Thma commune police chief, said two of his officers participated in the bust at the request of the Forestry Administration.
Samtheach said he believed that the logs were harvested from the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Environment.
He said authorities were yet to discover those responsible for the crime, but he suspected they were not locals.
“We don’t know to whom the timber belonged because it was not found at a home but in a rice field, so the perpetrators must be from elsewhere and not locals,” Samteach said.
The logs were the trunks of mlup trees, which is not luxury wood but commonly used as a building material.
The Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary covers Kampong Thom, Preah Vihear, Kampong Cham, Kratie and Stung Treng provinces in northern Cambodia.