Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Wildlife sanctuaries in Kratie, Battambang and Banteay Meanchey closed



Wildlife sanctuaries in Kratie, Battambang and Banteay Meanchey closed

A truck carrying illegal luxury wood sits on the road in Kratie after being seized by local authorities in 2014. A royal decree has dissolving the wildlife sanctuaries in Kratie and Battambang, with local authorities saying the protected forest is gone. Photo supplied
A truck carrying illegal luxury wood sits on the road in Kratie after being seized by local authorities in 2014. A royal decree has dissolving the wildlife sanctuaries in Kratie and Battambang, with local authorities saying the protected forest is gone. Photo supplied

Wildlife sanctuaries in Kratie, Battambang and Banteay Meanchey closed

Two protected wildlife sanctuaries – Snuol Wildlife Sanctuary in Kratie province and Roneam Daun Sam Wildlife Sanctuary in Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provinces – have been dissolved under a royal decree, with at least one conservationist on Sunday saying the move illustrated the government’s failure to protect the forest.

The royal decree, dated February 22, was posted on the Ministry of Environment’s official Facebook page on Thursday. It announces the dissolution of the Snuol Wildlife Sanctuary, established in 1993 and consisting of 75,000 hectares, as well as the Roneam Daun Sam Wildlife Sanctuary, established in 2003 and consisting of 39,961 hectares.

Chhay Duong Savuth, director of the Kratie province Environment Department, said the Snuol Wildlife Sanctuary was being dissolved because it has been completely lost, which he blamed on local villagers.

“If it wasn’t gone, it would not be dissolved,” he said. “I want to say that the land has been cleared and grabbed by people.”

However, the government has granted thousands of hectares to companies in the form of economic land concessions for rubber plantations inside both sanctuaries, and the areas had also grappled with illegal logging over the years.

The Snuol Wildlife Sanctuary in particular is on the border with Vietnam, and for years there were allegations that wood from the protected area was being smuggled across the border.

Duong Savuth said the protection of Snuol Wildlife Sanctuary was difficult due to a lack of rangers and people clearing the land defying authorities. He pointed to a recent protest at Kratie’s Memot Rubber Plantation, where security forces fired on demonstrators, injuring three.

Kott Boran, director of the Battambang province Environment Department, claimed that a population increase had led to the loss of the Roneam Daun Sam Wildlife Sanctuary.

“Currently, people are cultivating on the land,” he said. “The cultivation has happened for a long time.”

But Seng Sokheng, with the Community Peace Building Network, said the blame for the dissolution of the sanctuaries rested with the government.

Land inside the sanctuaries “was granted to private companies”, and the forest was also cleared for private ownership, he added. Timber was logged for businesses, he continued, involving government officials and powerful tycoons.

“We think that the government should . . . replant trees instead of converting these areas for agri-business because it will make the public hopeless with the government regarding forest protection and commitment,” he said. “The public will see that this case . . . can be [due to] government weakness on law enforcement.”

Additional reporting by Yesenia Amaro

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Kingdom accepts Chinese vaccine, PM first to get jab

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said China would offer Cambodia an immediate donation of one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Sinopharm company. In an audio message addressing the public on the night of January 15, he said Cambodia has accepted the offer and

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • PM asks India for vaccine help

    Prime Minister Hun Sen is seeking assistance from India for the provision of Covid-19 vaccines as the country has produced its own vaccine which is scheduled to be rolled out to more than 300 million Indians this year. The request was made during his meeting with

  • Cambodia, India agree to start direct flights, tourism exchanges

    Cambodia and India have agreed to start direct flight connections and promote closer tourism exchanges and cooperation in all areas after the Covid-19 saga comes to a close. The agreement was reached during a meeting between Cambodian Minister of Tourism Thong Khon and newly-minted Indian

  • Plastic-to-rice initiative transforms waste into bricks

    Volunteers in Kampong Khlaing commune of Siem Reap province’s Sotr Nikum district have been collecting plastic waste to use as a raw material for the production of bricks and clemence tiles. The volunteers are hoping that, in addition to helping clean up the environment,