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Oddar Meanchey animals threatened

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Villagers and monk inspects a log in the forest. Supplied

Oddar Meanchey animals threatened

All species of animals in the Sorng Rukhavoan Wildlife Sanctuary are facing danger no thanks to night hunters, despite concerted efforts to stop the crimes, say activists and environment officials.

The 30,254-hectare sanctuary spans across the Sorng Rukhavorn and Rattanak Rokha community forests, as well as areas flooded by the Stung Treng II hydroelectric dam in Oddar Meanchey province’s Anlong Veng district.

Sorng Rukhavoan community forest head, the venerable Bun Saluth, told The Post on Monday that the sanctuary had been vulnerable to hunting, illegal logging and land clearing before it was designated a protected area.

Saluth said deforestation in the area had declined to around five per cent, but hunting had continued unabated, mostly at nighttime when it is difficult for rangers and activists to patrol the forest.

The monk said concerted action to protect the forest started after officials and community members began educating villagers who were once loggers and hunters themselves about the benefits of natural resources and the consequences of losing them.

“Hunting continues to happen with offenders using illegal electric devices at night that could also cause dangers for patrollers,” Saluth said.

Provincial environment department director Phuong Lina echoed the monks’ concerns. He said forestry and wildlife crimes have not been completely eliminated because some offenders start their activities only at nighttime, making it hard for community members and rangers alike.

He said officials and villagers had managed to intercept many illegal activities in the area.

However, Adhoc provincial coordinator Srey Naren was sceptical, claiming conspiracy was a likely cause.

“The protection and deforestation happen simultaneously. I think if there was no collaboration, the crimes wouldn’t be possible.

“There might be collusion between illegal traders and the relevant authorities managing the area. [The government] must look into this because we don’t want to have patrollers and destroyers colluding,” he said.

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