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Park rangers, loggers clash, exchange fires

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RAC president Sok Touch and his team were patrolling in the park on March 28 and witnessed many illegal logging activities. Sok Touch Facebook

Park rangers, loggers clash, exchange fires

Rangers from the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s (RAC) Techo Sen Russey Treb Park in Preah Vihear province returned many warning shots to break up loggers illegally transporting timber in the park, where forest crimes continue unabated.

RAC president Sok Touch and his team were patrolling in the park on March 28 and witnessed many illegal logging activities.

He said that on March 29 logging by 31 families living in the park seemed to have decreased after rangers had seized their tractors.

However, he noticed that many outsiders were cutting down big trees in the area. He said that while patrolling in the forest on March 28, rangers had fired many warning shots and managed to confiscate one of two tractors that were transporting big trees.
Each tree was up to 80cm in diameter.

“Yesterday, many shots were fired like in a Hollywood action movie,” he said, adding: “If the crimes keep happening, how can we preserve the area? So we seized evidence and it will not be returned”.

Touch said rangers did not have the resources to search for the loggers who escaped, but he called for relevant authorities to help provide four more rangers who would work with his two men in the park.

“We want to have at least six rangers to patrol the park and stop illegal logging,” he said. They have so far confiscated a pickup truck with Military Police plates and seven tractors.

Provincial Department of Environmental deputy director Meas Nhem said on March 29 that people often committed forest crimes in the dry season.

People still sneaked into and cut down trees in the park that is not under the environment ministry’s authority.

“In short, some loggings, land grabs and forest fires still happen in protected areas because it is the dry season when tractors and ox carts can access deep into the forest,” he said.

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