Prey Preah Roka Wildlife Sanctuary environmental rangers collaborated in patrols with forestry activists in a crackdown on illegal logging, apprehending two suspects, sending one to Preah Vihear Provincial Court, according to an official close to the matter on Tuesday.
Sanctuary director Bun Soeung told The Post the two apprehended suspects were identified as Len and Ry, residents of Preah Vihear province’s Chheb district. They were arrested and detained by rangers for illegal logging near the Vulture Restaurant on Friday.
“The suspect was remanded by the court at the provincial prison for illegal forest clearing,” he said.
Soeung added that forestry crimes in the Prey Preah Roka area caused great concern and demanded the participation and protection of all relevant parties, from villagers to local authorities.
He continued that local authorities have confiscated 50 chainsaws, 20 home-made tractors, 15 home-made guns, more than 15 cubic metres of timber and a number of animal traps since January.
Prey Preah Roka forestry community chief Pich Poan said forestry and wildlife crimes occur frequently during the dry season, mostly at night, but forest activists are working with rangers to arrest and detain offenders.
“It is not easy to crack down on forestry and wildlife offenders because they lurk in the dark while we come from the light. We are not afraid."
“We will keep cooperating with relevant authorities in patrolling, preventing and cracking down regularly because protecting the forest and wildlife is not merely the responsibility for government officials or the Ministry of Environment – it is all of our duty,” he said.
Phok Hong, a representative of the Prey Lang community from Chey Sen district’s Thmea commune in Preah Vihear province, told The Post that suspects whom she has filed forestry crimes complaints against have made threats against her and other land activists.
“It is very difficult to say how to effectively prevent forestry and wildlife crimes. Locals and government officials don’t just disregard laws and refuse to join the efforts to prevent forestry and wildlife crimes in the community.
“They even support offenders by eating bush meat and buying timber without regard for their source,” she said.