Mak Samoeurn plucks ripe oranges from his orange plantation in Battambang province. Heng Chivoan
Cheng Sokhorng, The Phnom Penh Post Fri, 10 February 2017
Orange farmer Say Samoeurth has been battling an invisible foe. He rarely sees his adversary, a tiny insect known as the Asian citrus psyllid, but wherever it goes this winged pest leaves behind a trail of destruction.
Most of the 1,000 orange trees that Samoeurth planted on his 2-hectare farm have been affected, with a bacteria transmitted by the sap-sucking insect stunting their growth and causing their leaves to turn colour and fall off. Some of defoliated trees still bear fruit, but its green, mottled appearance and bitter flavour prevents its sale in the market.
Samoeurth, who has been growing oranges on his land since 1996, said he first learned of the link between the psyllid and “citrus greening disease” from government agriculture officials. But no solutions were offered, and their advice was simply to cut down the orchard and plant something else.
Having invested his life savings into his orchard, the 52-year-old citrus farmer is reluctant to give up. Instead, he has sunk more money into his dying farm, uprooting the infected trees and transplanting new ones. (more…)
Khun Chandy, 18 and Khun Sokna, 13 drowned in a pond in Samang Commune of Thala Bori Vath district in Stung Treng Province. Photo supplied.
Khouth Sophak Chakrya, The Phnom Penh Post Thu, 19 January 2017
A brother and sister tragically drowned in a pond in Stung Treng province’s Thala Borivat district on Tuesday as they went to wash clothing, authorities said yesterday.
Sam Ang commune police chief Kong Sena said Khun Chandy, 18, had drowned after entering the water in an attempt to save her younger brother, Khun Sokna, aged 13.
Sena said that according to their older sister, Khun Chenda, 22, the pair had taken armfuls of blankets and clothes to wash in a basin with water gathered from the 4-metre-deep pond, just 70 metres behind their home.
Half an hour later, Sena said, Chenda heard the faint scream of her sister, saying, “Sister, please help our brother, he slipped into the pond.”
“She heard the scream a few times and she hurriedly ran to her parents and villagers, but when they arrived at the pond, both of them had disappeared,” Sena said.
He said that the children’s father and some villagers jumped into the pond and brought Chandy’s and Sokna’s lifeless bodies to shore, with the family preparing a funeral yesterday.
Villagers travel to patrol farmland to stop Rui Feng Sugar Co from clearing it in Preah Vihear province’s Tbeng Meanchey district. Heng Chivoan
Phak Seangly and Ananth Baliga The Phnom Penh Post, Wed, 18 January 2017
Poeun Cheun woke before sunrise on December 12 – a Monday – and after preparing a quick breakfast, she headed to her rice field a couple of kilometres away.
The 45-year-old widowed mother of four had been gone from the Tbeng Meanchey district farm for fewer than 24 hours, but now found herself staring at a plot of land she didn’t recognise, the vast majority cleared and ploughed by strangers in the middle of the night.
“They tried taking my land in 2015, but I stopped them. In early 2016, they tried again, but last month, they succeeded,” she told reporters earlier this week, her voice rising in anger.
Cheun is a Kuoy ethnic villager from Brame commune, one of hundreds of locals who have woken up to the same sight or actually witnessed what they claim are their traditional lands cleared by the Chinese-owned Rui Feng Sugar Co.
Rui Feng, along with four subsidiaries, was granted close to 40,000 hectares of land in 2010, and are sinking about $360 million into their operations billed as one of Southeast Asia’s largest sugar production facilities.
In 2012, the firm, acting with the blessing of local authorities, began clearing vast tracts of land across Tbeng Meanchey and neighbouring districts for their sugarcane plantation, drawing immediate, if seemingly futile, opposition from local villagers like Cheun. (more…)
A gaur that was recused last week from a snare is being transferred to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre. Photo supplied
Phak Seangly, The Phnom Penh Post Mon, 2 January 2017
A baby gaur has been rescued from a poacher’s trap in Battambang and is recovering at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre in Takeo, officials said yesterday.
Concerned villagers found the wild animal caught in a trap made of string at the foot of a mountain in a forest in Rokhakiri district’s Basak commune.
District Governor Pich Malai, who originally misidentified the animal as an endangered banteng, said despite authorities educating people about hunting wildlife, some still continued to lay traps. “Fortunately, we found it in time, or else it might be slaughtered already. At the time, the hunter was not seen,” Malai said.
The forest, he said, apart from being home to the “vulnerable” species of gaur, also hosts peacocks, red deer and banteng.
Prey Svay Forestry Administration chief You Panhavoan said the gaur was trapped by its hind leg and had sustained superficial scratches but no serious injuries.
Panhavoan said he did not know for how long the gaur was trapped, but said it was kept in Basak commune for a night before it was transported to Takeo yesterday.
Nhek Rattanakpich, director of the Phnom Tamao zoo and rescue centre, identified the animal as a 1-year-old gaur, and said veterinarians were tending to its swollen leg and diarrhoea possibly caused by heat and fear of people.
The population of the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin is reportedly stabilising after the sighting of 10 new calves in the past year. Photo supplied
Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon The Phnom Penh Post, Wed, 28 December 2016
The critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphin’s population in the Mekong is “stabilising”, the World Wildlife Fund said yesterday.
With the sighting of 10 new dolphin calves and six reported deaths in the past year, 2016 saw a 30 percent drop in the mortality rate compared to 2015, according to the statement, though the current population estimate of 80 remains far below the 200 estimated in 1997.
The group currently identifies hydropower dam construction, decreasing water levels and illegal fishing practices as major threats to the species. According to the group’s spokesman, Sambo Chheng, “most illegal fishing happens during the dry season, because dolphins and fish [are concentrated] in deep pools” along the Mekong when water levels reach their annual lows.
Community fishing patrols, he added, will be implemented in coordination with the Fisheries Administration starting this year to stave off illegal fishing. This strategy is similar to the use of patrols in the waters around the Koh Rong archipelago introduced earlier this year.
Earlier this month, Stung Treng-based environmentalists Chum Hout and Chum Hour noted that dolphins have become scarce near the construction of the Don Sahong dam. Today, they said it’s been two months since they’ve sighted any. (more…)