Eight environmental organisations yesterday asked the government to take immediate action against loggers and land speculators in a wildlife sanctuary in Preah Vihear province, worrying that more land will be encroached upon.
According to a joint statement issued by the organisations, which include Birdlife International, Conservation International, Wildlife Alliance and Wildlife Conservation Society, they are very concerned about logging and poaching that happened early this month in the Phnom Tnout Wildlife Sanctuary.
The statement said the Phnom Tnout Wildlife Sanctuary was experiencing encroachment through land speculation, illegal logging and poaching by some perpetrators and that authorities had to enforce the law to curb it or risk the loss of natural resources.
“We urge the Royal Government of Cambodia to take appropriate actions without delay against land speculators, illegal loggers and poachers in order to ensure the protection and sustainable management of this important protected area for present and future generations,” it said.
Ken Sereyratha, WCS country director, said the Phnom Tnout Wildlife Sanctuary was rich in endangered wildlife, including banteng, clouded leopards, sun bears, silver langurs, gibbons, dholes and large water birds.
Mr Sereyratha said some opportunists incited people to encroach upon the land early this month which could affect the sanctuary.
“We, conservation and community forestry organisations, are worried about these activities [land grabbing] spreading to the core area of Phnom Tnout Wildlife Sanctuary. So, we ask the government, especially relevant ministries, to take action as soon as possible,” he added.
Mr Sereyratha said he received information that about 20 to 30 opportunists incited about 400 people to encroach upon the land in the sanctuary early this month, but their activities were stopped by provincial environmental officials and local authorities.
Chea Sam Ang, director general of natural resources preservation at the Environment Ministry, declined to comment, saying he was busy in a meeting.
Meas Nhim, director of the Phnom Tnout Wildlife Sanctuary, said a handful of people have incited others to grab forestland in the sanctuary, but provincial authorities, provincial court prosecutors, environmental officials and relevant authorities were coordinating to prevent land-clearing.
“We have always gone to prevent it, but this protected area is new and has just been put under the control of Environment Ministry so the people still do not understand,” said Mr Nhim.
“However, we will work hard to prevent criminal activity to conserve this wildlife sanctuary.”
On August 31, 2017, the government created the Phnom Tnout Wildlife Sanctuary in Preah Vihear province.