Communities track a path of destruction through a Cambodian wildlife sanctuary

Illegal logging persists deep in the heart of Cambodia’s Chhaeb-Preah Roka Wildlife Sanctuary amid government inaction and even complicity with the loggers.

Sometime after 10 a.m. on Friday, April 21, sweat poured down the face of veteran environmental activist San Mala as he crawled through the forest undergrowth, some 16 kilometers (10 miles) deep in the heart of Chhaeb-Preah Roka Wildlife Sanctuary in northern Cambodia.

Rangers from the Ministry of Environment were closing in and were calling out for the activists to give themselves up.

The rangers had appeared as the camp of community patrollers Mala had accompanied were preparing breakfast. Mala and a handful of his team were already in the forest and managed to escape. Now, the activists were dragging themselves through the foliage as silently as they could.

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