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Locals steal wood in Vietnam national park thanks to dearth of rangers

Saturday, November 28, 2015, 13:48 GMT+7
Locals steal wood in Vietnam national park thanks to dearth of rangers
Planks of precious wood are prepared to be carried out of forest

Hundreds of locals enter Yok Don National Park in the Central Highlands of Vietnam every day to steal wood by chopping down trees and cutting them into pieces to carry out of the forest for sale.

They are even shown the way where there are no rangers to get out of the forest thanks to tip-offs from chief wood traders.

One day Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper journalists joined a group of six locals, including a seventh grader and an eighth grader, living in Tri B Village, Krong Na Commune to cross the Serepok River to enter Yok Don, located in Dak Lak Province.

Half of the group rowed a boat to cross the river under the guise of oxen tenders while the others carrying knives and ropes swam across the river.

After chopping down trees, Y.C. – head of the group – decided to cut them into pieces 1.2 meters in length each.

Each round section was later stuffed into a rectangular box and carried out of the forest.

Such loggers often stay in the forest for two or three days a trip to chop down enough trees.

On leaving the forest, they contact local wood traders to get advice in order to avoid rangers.

Traders buy each 1.2m-long piece for VND200,000 (US$9) to VND900,000 ($40), depending on its diameter.

A member of the group admitted to Tuoi Tre that they are not afraid of rangers and once attacked them before running away.

Stealing wood that way, many locals can only fell small trees whose diameter is around 30cm.

Bigger trees stand deep in the core of the forest and require machines to be cut and towed out of the woods.

Do Quang Tung, director of Yok Don National Park, said 900 trees have been logged that way this year, or three trees a day.

Tung added that he has only 180 rangers to keep an eye on a total area of 115,000 hectares of forests, meaning each covers nearly 640 hectares.

That explains why they have not well protected the forest, he said.

Tuoi Tre

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