Villagers from all five communes of Kratie province’s Snuol district began patrolling the Snuol Wildlife Sanctuary yesterday in a bid to protect the area from illegal loggers, in the second multiday crackdown undertaken by residents this year.
The 60 villagers involved in yesterday’s patrol gathered at Tra Peang village in Ksim commune and entered the protected area with 40 motorcycles.
Chhim Savuth, public forums and training projects coordinator at the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, said that the villagers, members of forest community networks, possessed “an all-out will” to guard the area, which he said was being decimated by “powerful and wealthy traders”.
During a four-day effort in February, eight chainsaws and one bulldozer were confiscated and 10 loggers were arrested, he added.
Snuol district deputy district governor Men Vanna told the Post yesterday that the sanctuary had been partitioned and granted to 11 private companies for agro-industry development.
“The forest in Snuol district has been almost all cut down. More than 40,000 hectares of economic land concessions licensed by the government have been given to 11 companies,” he said.
Touch Bunmony, a forestry administration official in Kratie, acknowledged that widespread illegal logging was a problem and said he supported the villagers’ efforts.
“The patrol of our forest community contributes to good cooperation with the forestry administration,” he said.