Forest rangers from the Ministry of Environment and Wildlife Alliance which patrolled the forest along the Cardamom Mountain range have seized a massive haul of illegally procured animals and goods, as well as a long list of equipment used in the operation.
In the incident that happened last week, two men found at the scene were apprehended.
The contents of the raid were listed in a report issued by the ministry on Wednesday and included 73 cubic meters of timber, 36 birds, five tortoises, four motorcycles, a minivan, two bird-catching nets, 10 snares, fish shocking equipment, three tractors, seven ox-drawn carts, three homemade rifles, three tonnes of coal, a homemade truck, and 2.5kg of deer meat.
The rangers also had to extinguish a fire. As they continued patrolling the area, they found illegal camps and 12 houses under-construction.
The report said despite the Covid-19 outbreak, the rangers continued their battle against illicit timber logging and animal hunting to protect the Cardamom Mountains, which is the largest rainforest in Southeast Asia.
Pursat province’s Phnom Kravanh district Military Police commander Chan Sokha said on Wednesday that his forces joined the forest rangers in the raid, even though they did not request for assistance.
Pursat wildlife protection representative Kuch Veng said on Wednesday that illegal logging of forests was common. He said the use of homemade trucks to transport stolen goods have become popular with illegal loggers.
Veng said they log at night because, during the day, rangers and community members patrolled the forest.
The government issued a sub-decree establishing the Southern Cardamom Mountains since May 2016. It covers 410,392ha in Koh Kong, Pursat, Kampong Speu and Preah Sihanouk provinces.
The sub-decree required the Ministry of Environment to collaborate with relevant partners, the provincial administrations and local authorities to ensure that the environment is protected, biodiversity conserved and natural resources used in a sustainable manner.