More Than 3,000 Luxury Logs Found in Wildlife Sanctuary

Police and environment officers in Mondolkiri province on Sunday confiscated more than 3,000 lengths of luxury-grade timber found inside a wildlife sanctuary but have yet to determine if it belongs to a Chinese company with a land concession in the area.

Provincial police and officers from Mondolkiri’s environment department descended on the cache of Thnong logs in Pech Chreada district’s Pou Chrei commune after receiving information from locals, according to district Governor Nguon Saran.

“We still do not know whether the wood belongs to the company or loggers and we need to do more investigating,” Mr. Saran said, declining to name the company.

Thnong can fetch up to $800 per square meter in the provinces and much more in China and Vietnam.

Chhit Sophal, director of the provincial environment department, confirmed that more than 3,000 pieces of timber had been confiscated but shared few details.

“I am only on my way to investigate now,” he said. “I need to get more details to see whether it is company or conservation land.”

Much of Pech Chreada district is part of the Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary, a 22,250-hectare expanse bordered by Vietnam to the east and the Mondolkiri Protected Forest to the north.

Sok Ratha, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said the logs were found inside the sanctuary but outside of the company’s concession, based on what he was told by the villagers who found it.

“We still do not know who owns the wood, but the location that it was found [in] is bordered by an economic land concession held by a Chinese company,” he said.

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