Battambang provincial Department of Environment is hunting for the individuals involved in the transportation of more than 13 cubic metres of luxury timber that was seized near the Chrok Chang Eath ranger station in Prey Thom village of Samlot district’s Kampong Lpov commune on June 10.  

The rangers at Chrok Chang Eath, in collaboration with the local police offices and the NGO Wildlife Alliance, stopped a large truck carrying the timber.

The vehicle was travelling from Pursat province in an attempt to enter Battambang when it was stopped, according to the environment department.

“When we inspected the truck, we discovered four large pieces of timber, measuring over 13 cubic metres. The truck and the timber were impounded and are being held at the station for further legal action,” it stated.  

The truck bore two different number plates, with the front carrying Tbong Khmum 3A-3400 and the rear Preah Sihanouk 4A-2829.

Department director Kort Boran explained on June 11 that no one was arrested during the seizure. The driver stopped the vehicle ahead some distance from the checkpoint and fled into the nearby village.

“The driver stopped the truck about 100m from the ranger’s checkpoint, jumped down from the cab and ran away. The rangers were unable to locate him,” he claimed, adding that the timber is Spong, a third grade timber.

The truck, which bore mismatched license plates, was carrying over 13cu m of timber. The driver fled the scene. Battambang provincial Department of Environment

The tree species cannot be found in Battambang, but in the deep forests of Pursat, he said.

“We don’t know exactly where it came from in Pursat. We are searching for the people involved, and will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law,” he added.

Boran said his team have investigated and prosecuted many forest crimes in the past two years, although he could not specify exact figures.

The Central Cardamom Mountains Landscape is one of Cambodia’s most heavily forested areas, covering 400,000 hectares of Kampong Speu, Pursat and Koh Kong provinces. The area is rich in biodiversity and home to many species of plants and wildlife animals, according to USAID Morodok Baitang.

It stated that although over 95 per cent of the natural resources there are currently conserved, the magnificent landscape is under threat from deforestation, forest encroachment and poaching. This requires long-term protection, which USAID is supporting, it added.