February 16, 2022
PHNOM PENH – During a visit to inspect the management of natural resources and biodiversity in protected areas in Oddar Meanchey province on February 13, Minister of Environment Say Samal called on stakeholders to cooperate more and increase the effectiveness of the protection of conservation areas.
Those areas that Samal’s delegation inspected included the Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary and Sorng Rukhavorn Wildlife Sanctuary.
Samal said the conservation of sustainable natural resources is linked to the creation of a strong local economy – improving community livelihoods by promoting animal husbandry and eco-tourism development, among others.
On that occasion, provincial governor Pen Kosal – as well as park rangers and community members of the protected area who participated in this trip – also planted trees at the luxury tree park in the Sorng Rukhavorn Wildlife Sanctuary as eco-souvenirs of the trip.
Venerable Bun Saluth – head of the Sorng Rukhavorn sanctuary network who has been involved in protecting natural resources for the past 20 years – said the minister’s call would help raise awareness and encourage stakeholders to be more actively involved in crime prevention in protected areas.
“This calls on civil servants at all levels to cooperate in protecting our natural resources, and I am happy. I hope people will put more effort into defending them,” he said.
He strongly believed that with the participation of all stakeholders, forest and wildlife protection will improve.
Saluth, however, expressed concern that hunters were still setting traps and trees were still being felled despite tight security measures.
“Sometimes we find rare and endangered species trapped. Traps and snares are very dangerous, even large animals die. Even if the animal escapes the trap, it is often crippled, and will likely die. In Oddar Meanchey province, all of the rosewood outside the protected area is gone. The timber traders have turned to the Sorng Rukhavorn area which I protect,” he said.
As a forest ranger for many years, he described the security-related challenges of each patrol.
“We have to be vigilant when tree felling is reported. I ask for reinforcement from the authorities before we confront the loggers, because there are usually 10 to 15 men on a logging crew.
“I make sure that we have a mix of soldiers, monks and villagers, and that there are at least five of us. If there are too few of us, there is a chance that the illegal loggers would kill us to get rid of witnesses,” he said.
Oddar Meanchey province has many protected areas with a total area of 191,403ha, including the Sorng Rukhavorn Wildlife Sanctuary spanning 30,254ha. Banteay Chhmar Protected Landscape covers an area of 38,506ha, while Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary spans 122,643ha. The Oddar Biodiversity Conservation Corridor covers an area of 37,696ha.