Two large trucks packed with illegal timber were stopped by authorities while they were passing through Kratie province on Sunday, an indicator, some observers say, that smuggling is on the rise again in the eastern provinces.
“The truck carried wood from Stung Treng to Kratie, and we did not know where they would go from there,” said military police spokesman Eng Hy.
Hy did not say who the suspects were but said they were handed to Forestry Administration officials for now.
According to conservationists and locals, many timber shipments have passed from Kratie and other eastern provinces through Tbong Khmum en route to Vietnam recently.
“We have seen trucks carry wood actively since May 18,” said one local, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We have seen at least 200 to 300 trucks covered with plastic driving towards Vietnam on National Road 7.”
Prak Munny, an independent analyst who until recently worked with the Wildlife Conservation Society, said illegal logging and clearing were coming back because of diminished patrols as the Forestry Administration hands over enforcement duties to the Ministry of Environment. “Since the transition, many people took the opportunity,” he said.
A conservationist, who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to jeopardise his work, corroborated Munny’s assessment yesterday.