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Rangers evict Oral sanctuary kiln operators

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Rangers destroy over 20 charcoal kilns and huts in Kampong Speu province’s Oral district on Tuesday. Environment Ministry ENVIRONMENT MINISTRY

Rangers evict Oral sanctuary kiln operators

An environmental activist said more than 20 illegal brick kilns and huts had been demolished by rangers in the Oral Wildlife Sanctuary after their owners failed to follow instructions to cease their activities because they were depleting national forest resources.

The celebrity activist, Tan Kimsour, said he and other Oral community members along with 30 rangers had cooperated to crack down on natural resource crimes in the sanctuary on May 10 by destroying over 20 illegal brick kilns and accompanying structures.

“To fuel one brick kiln, up to 20 or 30 trees can be cut down,” he said in a social media post.

He added that, six months ago, the rangers had instructed the owners of the kilns to cease their activities and made them sign a contract agreeing to stop their illegal activity in the sanctuary.

At that time the owners were given the opportunity to dismantle the kilns and move them from the sanctuary after their coal was collected. However, they did not follow instructions and continued to illegally cut down trees and burn them for charcoal to fuel their kilns.

He said the rangers and community had also found dozens of hectares of forest land illegally occupied by unknown individuals.

Om Mak Theary, director of the provincial Department of Environment, hailed the joint efforts of the rangers and the Oral community to protect the forest.

“We encourage our officials and partners, including local communities, to work together to search out, prevent and crack down on forest crimes in order to effectively protect our natural resources, though I have not yet received an official report on this case from our experts,” he said.

Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary director Hul Mara told The Post that his team and the Oral community were continuing to patrol the sanctuary as the operation is scheduled to last for three days from May 10-12.

“Tan Kimsour joined one of our ranger patrols and then made his posts on social media based on preliminary data, but we are pleased with the results of the work by our officials and the community members who are participating in the forest patrol operation that began May 10.

“However, we are still waiting for the official report from our rangers when they return before making any announcements,” he said.

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