Authorities yesterday raided a workshop and seized hundreds of wild animal tusks being carved illegally in the capital’s Chbar Ampov district.
Eng Hy, National Military Police spokesman, said his unit took part in the operation and noted that an investigation is ongoing.
“We cooperated with the forestry administration and a court prosecutor to raid the place,” he said. “Because it is part of a secret operation, we can only reveal the details after the case is fully investigated.”
The raiding party checked the Check Meng workshop in Chbar Ampov II commune and found hundreds of wild animal parts, including elephant, wild boar and mouse deer tusks and also tiger teeth.
The workshop was then shuttered after forestry administration officials said it was operating without a license.
The tusks of wild animals are believed to be sacred and after incantations by fortune tellers are said to bring good luck and protection from harm, including from bullets.
A Wildlife Alliance official yesterday confirmed that the NGO took part in the joint operation, but declined to comment.
A man who declined to be named answered the workshop’s phone yesterday and claimed that he was running the workshop legally.
“I have permission to carve tusks from the district administration,’ he said. “They accused us of not having a license and took all our carved tusks. It looks like they want to make up a case to cheat us.”
“Actually, I consulted with district officers before and they told me that there is no need for me to get a license from anywhere else, because we just carve fake tusks bought from Toul Tumpong market,” he added.
He noted that he would take action in response to yesterday’s raid but declined to provide details.
Chbar Ampov district Governor Cheng Monyra declined to comment.