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Hunters take a bite out of wildlife population numbers

Pav Suy / Khmer Times Share:
WWF says illegal hunting is a threat to wild animals. Kampuchea Thmey

The World Wildlife Fund says it is concerned about a drop in wildlife numbers in Mondulkiri province amid illegal hunting and the sale of bush meat.

Moul Phat, director of the provincial branch of the WWF, said important animal species had become extinct in the province.

“On average, two bantengs have died per day and big tigers have been absent in Mondolkiri province since 2007,” he said. “This report does not include other provinces in Cambodia.”

Mr Phat spoke during International Day for Biodiversity Conservation on Tuesday in Mondolkiri’s Keo Seima district.

About 500 civil servants, armed forces and environmental officers as well as students and teachers took part in the event.

Mr Phat linked illegal logging and hunting to the loss of wildlife.

“Trafficking of timber still continues inside the preservation forests, and its link to hunting for food is a confronting problem,” he said.

Mr Phat could not be reached later for further comment. WWF communication manager Un Chakrey did not reply to requests for comment.

Keo Sopheak, director of the provincial environment department, said yesterday that his officers were working hard to stem the hunting and meat trafficking in the province.

“We have tried to prevent wildlife crimes,” he said. “First, there has been an increase in trapping. We created a group with conservation community staff to patrol the area to remove the traps.”

“These traps are mostly set up by people living in the community. Trapping is silent hunting,” he added. “Second, we also prevent hunters from getting in, but this is not so effective because the law is not so strict. So we have increased the number of patrols to deter hunters.”

Wildlife crime in Mondolkiri was also caused by the uncontrolled sale of bush meat in neighbouring provinces, he said.

“In the markets, we report illegal sales to the wildlife NGO because our department does not have enough forces to enforce the law in the markets,” he said.

Mr Sopheak said Mondolkiri had 16 conservation communities with important species including banteng, Asian elephants and wild buffaloes in higher numbers than in other provinces.

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