Veal Veng district military police in Pursat province on Monday burned three lorries at the Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary after they were found to be transporting timber illegally. The drivers escaped.
The police cooperated with Wildlife Alliance to track down the lorries in Pramuoy commune in the district, where they were confiscated.
“The authorities brought the evidence to the Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary office for processing on Monday. We cut them into pieces and burnt them. We have burnt 20 trucks which transported timber illegally so far.
“We will continue this work with Wildlife Alliance to find offenders and evidence related to forest crimes,” provincial military police deputy commander So Sovandy said.
Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary director Phan Sophearin said on Monday that for the past three months, 10 people had been arrested and sent to the Pursat Provincial Court for committing forest crimes.
Forest offences, including hunting wildlife, seem to have reduced, but it’s likely because the forests aren’t patrolled enough, Phan said. Citizens also take part in patrolling, but not often, he said.
“There is a barrier in our patrolling work, as it is hard to move evidence from deep forests. We have no option besides burning evidence. We patrol the forest seven to nine times per month, but there is not enough personnel to do this job,” he said.
Pursat wildlife protection representative, Kuch Veng, said people in the community did not patrol the forest like before because their living conditions are poor. Also, citizens don’t take things from the forest to sell because they are afraid of catching Covid-19.
He said for forest offences, the authorities still find cases of illegal timber logging when they carry out patrols. When the authorities carry out patrols irregularly, the offenders, he said, would start again.
Veng said patrols help deter illegal timber logging, but when there are infrequent patrols, the illegal activities are ramped up.
In a separate case on Sunday, Siem Reap police intervened in an illegal delivery of timber for sale in Slakram commune. However, the driver and his accomplices escaped, leaving the vehicle behind.
The National Police said on Monday that the intervention was led by police from the Anti-Economic Crime Department and the provincial deputy police chief in charge of anti-economic crimes, Mork Theara, with cooperation from the Forestry Administration.
The vehicle, which was loaded with 22 pieces of first-grade timber measuring over one cubic meter wide each, was brought to a police station in Siem Reap. The hunt is on for the fugitives.