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Governor Pledges Sanctuary Action

Pav Suy / Khmer Times Share:
The Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary in Kampong Chhnang province. Suuplied

The Kampong Chhnang provincial governor has vowed to ramp up action to protect the Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary in Kampong Chhnang province, which he said is rife with illegal logging and kilns.
“We are stopping people from getting into the sanctuary and cutting down trees with chainsaws or building kilns for charcoal or other purpose,” provincial governor Chhour Chandoeun said yesterday.
“We will manage the demarcation of the area according to the royal degree from the king using GPS and maps,” he said.
“So far, we have cement demarcation poles far from one another which make them hard to recognize. We will add more poles.
“In addition, we need to educate the people and separate the sanctuary land and their farmland and avoid further expansion into the area.”
He made no mention of corruption among sanctuary officials.
However, in a meeting on a government circular about natural resource protection last week, local media said he accused the wildlife sanctuary chief of receiving bribes in exchange for not taking action on logging and kiln building.
“We will strengthen the guards and the protection. If loggers enter, we will ban them,” he said.
“If sanctuary officials get involved, we will take action such as replacing them or taking legal action against them.”
But he said there are not enough officials to provide efficient protection.
The governor said the sanctuary has huge benefits for the nation, not only for animals to live in, but also for supporting the atmosphere and biodiversity for agricultural needs.
Pen Bonnar, a community program officer at rights group Adhoc, said there is nothing new about protecting the sanctuary, which is still rampant with deforestation.
“It is not the only case that deforestation happens in Phnom Oral Sanctuary. We can see it in Rattanakiri as well and many others,” he said.
Mr. Bonnar said it was the responsibility of the provincial governor as well as lower officials to protect the sanctuary. He urged the governor to file a criminal complaint to the court against the sanctuary chief.
Beu Bunthorn, the director of Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary, accepted that there were issues raised by the governor, but these had been eliminated in the last six months after a directive had been issued.

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