Wood Emperor arrested in Cambodia

FFI has played a crucial role in apprehending a major criminal behind many large scale illegal logging operations in the remote northern section of the Cardamom Mountains.

Working in close partnership with the Cambodian Ministry of Environment, FFI helped to track down and arrest the man, known locally as the “Wood Emperor,” in a night time raid as he was transporting luxury timber from a secret stockpile in his specially modified vehicle.

The luxury timber included many endangered species and had been illegally cut in the Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary.  The wood would have fetched more that $10,000 and was destined to be transported to Battambang where it would have been turned into furniture.

The team faced many obstacles during the operation. To prevent rangers from recovering the luxury timber, criminals associated with the offender placed numerous booby traps on the bridges and even set the bridges alight.

The “Wood Emporer’s” wife was later arrested and charged with the destruction of the bridges.

“The ‘Wood Emperor’ has been a person of interest for sometime and has also been implicated in cross-border illegal logging and smuggling. The local border military have attempted to stop him and his illegal activities,” said Tim Wood, FFI Wildlife Sanctuary Technical Advisor.

“This case goes far beyond illegal logging and resource theft; there are national security issues at stake here.”

Tim also acknowledged that the successful capture of the criminal was a “direct example of how the support of donors can affect a change in conservation”

“The Ford Ranger vehicle that was so kindly donated by Ford and Australia Zoo allowed a small team to be inserted covertly in an area which is usually closely monitored by criminal elements” he said.


FFI have been working in partnership with the Ministry of Environment since 2000 to protect the forests and biodiversity of Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary.