Rangers with Confiscated Rosewood
At the end of last year, Wildlife Alliance’s forest patrol unit confiscated 12.5 cubic meters of illegal rosewood – the largest bust of the year! After receiving information from a local informant, the rangers hid along a dirt road for six hours waiting to intercept the illegal wood while in transit. At 3 am, the rangers finally heard engines approaching and jumped on their motorbikes to stop the shipment. As soon as they saw the two large trucks slowly trudging along, four rangers quickly opened the vehicle doors and took control of the trucks. The drivers were handcuffed and the roads were blocked to prevent them from escaping.
Taking the two trucks back to the station was no easy task: after negotiating the dirt roads in the dark, the trucks had to cross several wooden bridges spanning raging rivers to access the closest patrol station. As they started crossing the first bridge, they heard the bridge breaking under the heavy load! So the decision had to be made to take the trucks to a ranger station more than 90 km further instead.
The convoy arrived at the Wildlife Alliance Sre Ambel station at 9 am where they had to count the logs and fill in the legal documentation. 12.5 cubic meters of rosewood were recorded and it was determined that the Chief of the Military Police of Kompong Speu province was the owner of this illegal shipment. This was not going to be an easy case, and just minutes after the Forestry Administration officer leading the operation informed the local Forestry office, the court ordered the officer to bring the two trucks immediately to the court. This had never happened before – as evidence is always kept at the patrol stations under the jurisdiction of the Forestry Administration – but the law authorizes judges to make this kind of decision. We are now following up with the case to ensure that the Chief Military Police is not granted impunity and that the rosewood and trucks are not returned to him in secret.
Rosewood is an especially complicated matter because a lot of money is at stake. It is estimated that 1 cubic meter of rosewood sells for upwards of $50,000 in China and Vietnam. Forest crime uses a sophisticated network that preys on poverty stricken nations and people. Throughout the developing world, it is necessary to take precautions against corruption and information leaks, and doing so often puts the teams dangerously at odds with other officials. However, these vigilant wildlife heroes remain unfaltering. In 2014, the teams confiscated 192 cubic meters of illegal timber and 18 cubic meters of rosewood, removed 22,835 snares and 4,835 meters of netting from the forest, stopped 58 forest firest and rescued 543 animals. Thank you for your support, their important work would not be possible without your continued commitment!
Confiscated wood at the ranger station
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