Forest rangers from the Battambang provincial Department of Environment have stepped up patrols in light of the increase in wildlife crimes.
Provincial Department of Environment director Kort Boran told The Post on Tuesday that the rise coincides with the influx of migrant workers from Thailand through the province’s international border checkpoints and other corridors amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
Boran said wildlife crimes have notably increased in the Samlaut Multi-use Area and the Prek Toal Ramsar Sanctuary.
“In our four-day campaign [from March 28-31] to patrol the Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary, Samlaut Multiple-use Area and Prek Toal Ramsar site, our rangers arrested three offenders and seized some contraband as evidence.
“The provincial court has placed them in pre-trial detention for third-grade natural resource crimes under articles 56 and 61 of the Law on Protected Natural Areas,” he said.
They face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to 50 million riel ($12,300) if convicted.
Boran said on March 2, Samlaut Multiple-use Area rangers in collaboration with military forces also patrolled the Sraemo site and spotted four suspects. One of them, he said, was carrying a white sack but slung it and fled into the forest with his accomplices when ordered to stop to be checked.
The rangers found a male monkey’s carcass weighing 10kg and two tortoise hatchlings. The carcass was set on fire at the scene, while the hatchlings were released into the river in front of the Barlang headquarters in Samlot district’s Samlot village.
On Sunday, Boran said he led rangers from various sanctuaries to patrol the Point 49 area and arrested three of eight poachers for trapping painted stork babies. The team seized six sacks containing 38 painted stork babies as evidence.
On March 22, he said Prek Toal Ramsar rangers also arrested eight poachers and seized eight sacks containing 123 painted stork carcasses. The eight suspects have since been sent to court.
“I’ve noticed that migrant workers [from Thailand], especially those who came through the corridors, walked past forests and committed the offences.
“This is why our rangers need to enforce the law and step up patrols to stop poaching and forestry crimes,” he said.
According to a report issued by the Battambang Provincial Administration, as of Tuesday, nearly 10,000 migrants had returned from Thailand through the province.
Most of them are Battambang residents, while the rest hailed from Svay Rieng, Prey Veng, Kampong Cham and Tbong Khmum provinces.