Eastern Plains Landscape case studies show unrelenting illegal activities, but successful interventions amidst wider national crack down

Posted on January, 26 2018

Imagine a time in Cambodia where tigers, leopards, elephants, deer, and rare birds roamed freely, without any threat, and in large numbers.
Imagine a time in Cambodia where tigers, leopards, elephants, deer, and rare birds roamed freely, without any threat, and in large numbers. This was once a reality but unfortunately, those times are gone, and with it, their ancient habitat is threaten to be the next ecosystem brought to the edge of extinction creating further destruction.
There is still hope, however, and the 27,400 km2 Eastern Plains Landscape (EPL) including two wildlife sanctuaries, Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary (PPWS) and Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary (SWS), offers a chance to have these pockets of nature sustainably conserved.
Even so, illegal logging of virgin forest is one of the main threats facing these wildlife sanctuaries. Reasons for illegal logging can include migrant populations logging to smuggle into neighboring countries; villagers logging luxury timber such as rosewood to make a living or to make furniture to sell; and land clearance for agriculture.
Whatever the motives, illegal logging is rampant in the EPL and this quarter has revealed telling case studies and high numbers of confiscations from our hardworking patrolling teams.
Patrolling is done in the wildlife sanctuaries periodically throughout the year and takes several forms. The rangers are responsible for patrolling the area and identifying illegal activities, conducting confiscations, issuing warning letters, and working with local authorities to make arrests and prosecutions if needed.
Additionally, they are supported by mobile enforcement units (MEU) who respond to call outs and tip offs of illegal activities as well as conducting raids and spontaneous road blocks and checks.
Lastly, in both sanctuaries there are community patrolling teams (CPT) working with rangers from the Ministry of Environment (MoE). 129 people involved this quarter operated primarily in the sanctuaries’ core areas and extend patrol capacity and technical support, having the advantage of being fully integrated in the areas where we work.
The WWF-Cambodia EPL program supports and trains rangers to evaluate and report their progress using Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tools (SMART) and Management Effectiveness Tracking Tools (METT) making sure every location, item, and activity is tracked and recorded in details.
Immediate outcomes for the second and third quarter (April – September 2017) are as follows:
PPWS: 153 patrols, amounting equivalent to 424 days and 271 nights, were conducted. Patrolling teams covered a total distance of 6,725 km, and 716 timber logs as well as 67 chainsaws were confiscated.
SWS: 359 patrols, amounting equivalent to 720 days and 466 nights, were conducted. Patrolling teams covered a total distance of 21,318 km, and 1,089 timber logs as well as 77 chainsaws were confiscated.
Community Patrolling Team: 94 patrols were conducted amounting equivalent to 315 days and 223 nights covering 3,556 km; 322 timber logs and 25 chainsaws were confiscated.
MEU: The Mobile Enforcement Unit confiscated 570 logs and 3 chainsaws. Approximately two long-tailed macaques were confiscated and released into the wild every month.
1,761 snares were collected and 323 warning letters issued in the PPWS and SWS during the reporting period.
In one case the MEU confiscated 237 logs in the space of two days in June through roadblocks and checks during the night.
In another case in May, a patrol raid led to the discovery of 150 logs that had been dumped in the SWS as the driver became aware of our rangers and fled to avoid prosecution.
In September, after having received indications from an informant, the Mobile Enforcement Team, WWF staff and police officers pulled over a vehicle transporting logs. The driver was arrested and a minivan was confiscated. Twelve [Office1] Thnong logs were found in the trunk, 41 at the original site.
The patrols for this half-year show encouraging results and are a sign that patrolling activities and support for their development in the EPL is working.
But challenges are still remained including illegal logging, wildlife snaring and economic concessions.
Loggers were given a warning letter during our rangers' patrolling activity.
© WWF-Cambodia