GEORGE TOWN: Barely a year after the state Forestry Department crippled a gaharu wood (agarwood) poaching syndicate, the thieves are at it again.
After lying low since the arrest of two Cambodians in November, the illegal loggers are believed to be making a comeback for the highly valued gaharu trees.
Several trees, aged from 20 to 30 years old, were found chopped down at a forest near the Botanical Gardens.
Penang Hash House Harriers veteran runner Gurdial Singh, 53, discovered the fallen trees while running in the jungle on Tuesday.
He then led state Forestry Department officers to the site.
It was believed that the poachers would return to the scene as some high quality gaharu wood, said to be worth about RM20,000, was left there.
“The public is very concerned about the illegal felling of these prized trees and I hope something concrete can be done to stop it or it will never end. We do not want to lose any more of these gaharu trees. Enough is enough,” said Gurdial.
A spokesman from the state Forestry Department said its personnel would be monitoring the area to trace the poachers.
In November last year, two Cambodian men were caught red-handed during an ambush by the state Forestry Department officers following a tip-off from Gurdial.
Two others managed to escape when they noticed Forestry Depart-ment and police personnel surrounding their campsite deep inside the jungle behind the Mount Erskine market.
Two large pieces of agarwood, believed to be worth between RM50,000 and RM100,000 were recovered. The oil extracted from the agar wood is used for medicine and perfume, and fetches a handsome price in the Middle East.
Among other places where illegal felling of gaharu trees is rampant are Tanjung Bungah and Batu Feringghi.