Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Report outlines Prey Lang loggers

Report outlines Prey Lang loggers

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Members of Prey Lang forest patrol inspect illegally felled lumber in Kampong Thom province in 2014. Heng Chivoan

Report outlines Prey Lang loggers

At least 73 people were detained this year and handed over to the environment authority by the Prey Lang Community Network (PLCN) for clearing forest in the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary, a huge nature reserve in northern Cambodia spanning four provinces.

The arrests were detailed in the PLCN’s 2018 report obtained by The Post on Wednesday.

According to the report, the loggers were not sent to court because “they committed minor offences for the first time”. They were released by park rangers after promising in writing to stop clearing forest, hunting wild animals and hauling forestry products.

Throughout this year, PLCN cooperated with park rangers in patrolling the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary in each of the four provinces, seizing 123 chainsaws; 41 home-made guns; planks and square timber totaling 64 cubic metres; five long-tail monkeys; 18 trucks; five buffalo carts; 847 animal traps; 14 cans of gasoline totaling 420 litres; and three electric devices.

The report also detailed challenges faced by rangers and PLCN members, which include death threats by loggers.

Srey Thei, PLCN’s head of coordinating committee in Preah Vihear province, told The Post on Wednesday that logging remains rampant in most parts of the province.

“Forestry crime still continues almost every day and it mostly takes place at night time, making a crackdown difficult for unarmed civilians like us while loggers are armed with guns,” he said.

Thei added that early this month, three loggers hailing from Kampong Thom province threatened to “slit the throat” of PLCN activists in Preah Vihear province while they were seizing 10 cubic metres of planks hidden in the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary.

The PLCN activists and environment officials have filed a complaint against the trio to Preah Vihear provincial court.

“Despite the death threats, we will still prevent forestry and wildlife crimes because forest and wild animals are our lives,” Thei said.

Hoeun Sopheap, PLCN’s head of coordinating committee in Kampong Thom province, said forest and wild animals are a vital part of national culture that need to be protected and preserved with participation from all relevant parties, especially local people living in forest areas or wildlife sanctuaries.

“We are not hopeless although many people have yet to understand or appreciate the value of our efforts in protecting and preserving forest and wild animals in the Prey Land Wildlife Sanctuary,” he said.

Ek Sovanna, PLCN head of coordinating committee in Kratie province, said wildlife is an integral part of natural resources and a significant contribution to society and the economy.

“Forest is like a warehouse storing all types of the country’s goods that require protection from all relevant parties,” he said.

Kheng Kho, PLCN representative in Stung Treng province, said: “If all of us are afraid of the threats from forestry criminals and let them continue, it means we all support forestry crimes.”

Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra told The Post that there are currently 1,221 environmental rangers nationwide, barely enough to patrol the country’s forest that spans some 7.1 million hectares.

Pheaktra said active participation from NGOs such as PLCN is vital to forest protection and preservation for the next generation of Cambodians.

“To avoid incidents when patrolling, we encourage cooperation with rangers. We really need all the people, especially the PLCN activists, to help us combat forestry crime,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Banteay Meanchey gunfight sees 15 Thais arrested, three officers injured

    The Banteay Meanchey Military Police have arrested 15 Thai suspects and their accomplices after a gun battle between two Thai groups caused injuries to three police officers in the early hours of November 21, local authorities said. National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy said that according to

  • PM: Do not defile Tonle Sap swamp forest or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered police to arrest anyone – including government officials – involved with the deforestation of the flooded forests surrounding the Tonle Sap Lake because it is an area important to the spawning of many species of fish, among other reasons. Speaking in a