Authorities rescued about half a tonne of wildlife including snakes, turtles, and Asian water monitors when they stopped a bus heading for Phnom Penh yesterday.
The wildlife was packed in suitcases on the bus, which was stopped by officials from the city’s department of agriculture on National Road 70 at Tuol Kork’s Boeng Kak 1 commune.
Horm Saravuth, deputy director of the Agricultural Ministry’s forestry administration department, said the wildlife would be released at target areas depending on their condition.
The animals, which also included Eurasian Teals, were on a Seila Angkor Khmer Express bus.
The driver managed to escape.
Koam Seiha, chief of the municipal forestry administration, could not be reached for comment.
However, he told local media that the case had been under investigation for a week.
Checks on the bus revealed several cases of wild animals weighing in total 421 kilograms.
The people involved were being sought and the bus was taken to the forestry administration office.
A receptionist answering calls to the Seila Angkor Khmer Express company declined to comment and said she was not aware of the incident.
Sean Borin, deputy director of the municipal department of agriculture, said his forces would cooperate with an NGO working on wildlife to release the creatures into the forest.
“We need to look at those animals first to see how many of them died and how many are alive,” he said.
“If they have died, we need to bury them and for those alive, we will contact an NGO such as the Wildlife Alliance to release them.”
Wildlife Alliance officials declined to comment. On Sunday, police with Banteay Meanchey provincial anti-economic crime bureau stopped a pick-up truck, seizing nearly a tonne of live turtles and Asian water monitors along National Road 59 in Malai district heading from Thailand.