Interception of illegal luxury wood transport leads to arrest of four loggers in Mondulkiri
The rangers, who were on a regular night patrol led by outpost team leader Mr Chan Vanna, confiscated the truck alongside the timber and two chainsaws. According to the enforcement team, the offenders had planned to transport the wood to the neighboring province of Kratie.
The four men were then transported to the provincial capital of Sen Monorom where WWF will assist in filing a court case. The four men will be charged with trade of luxury and, if found guilty by the provincial court, they could risk up to 10 years of imprisonment plus up to 150 million riels of fine.
“The increase of night patrols since the last two months makes this kind of seizure and arrest possible,” says Mr Rohit Singh, WWF Technical Advisor to Law Enforcement. “We have learnt from observations and through interrogations of offenders that loggers cut trees at night and transport them the next night. So we can only make arrests if we work at night too, otherwise we will only be able to confiscate the already cut tree.”
Illegal logging poses a severe and ongoing threat to the integrity of Mondulkiri’s forests as illegal loggers encroach upon protected areas in search of high-priced luxury timber such as beng and rosewood. Since January of this year, the authorities with support from WWF have confiscated more than 20 chainsaws, 3 ox carts and 1 tractor, as well as confiscated more than 380 cubic meters of luxury wood.
WWF is currently running a wildlife crime campaign throughout Mondulkiri to raise awareness that illegal hunting and logging do irreparable damage to Cambodia’s natural heritage. With more support from the public through a newly established hotline for reporting wildlife crimes, WWF hopes to help the Cambodian authorities further decrease the pressure that poaching and illegal logging put on the country’s natural resource.