By Mengey Eng
| February 13, 2018
Phnom Penh, Feb. 14, 2018 – The Wildlife Conservation Society is encouraged by the Cambodian Government’s actions pursuing justice in connection to the murder two weeks ago of three rangers, including one WCS staff member, and is committed to continue working with the authorities and other partners to protect the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary.
Teurn Soknai, Ministry of Environment Ranger; Sek Wathana, Military Police Officer; and Thul Khna, WCS SMART Officer, were killed on January 30th in the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary (KSWS) while they were patrolling forest near the Cambodia-Vietnam border. They were killed when returning from the O’huoc border area after locating an illegal logging camp and confiscating chainsaws. South-east Asia is plagued by criminals illegally logging and Keo Seima has been one of the targets for the illegal trade in luxury wood.
Ken Serey Rotha, Country Program Director of WCS Cambodia, said: “We will not be deterred in our support of our Cambodian partners who are courageously working to safeguard our country’s wildlife in the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary. Our work in Keo Seima is not easy as the loggers, land-grabbers and poachers ruthlessly target our natural resources and our people, but we will not succumb to their total disregard of the law and the importance of the forest to local communities, biodiversity and our nation. With the continued implementation of the SMART (Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool) patrol system and with the support from REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) partners we all remain committed to the successful management and protection of Keo Seima.
“In honor of our murdered rangers and all the defenders of the forest, the ranger patrols in Keo Seima continue. We acknowledge the positive action taken by the government to bring justice for the families of the victims; we are also grateful that the false extortion accusations against the victims are being debunked. No one should use this tragic event to advance any agenda or to question the resolve of the rangers, the relevant authorities, and NGO partners to protect the forests of Keo Seima.”