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Ministry intensifies wildlife trade raids

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
Forest rangers display illegal wildlife meats seized from a market. MOE

The Ministry of Environment plans to intensify efforts to crack down on illegal wildlife hunting, both in protected areas and identified locations where illegal wild meat trade occurs.

Neth Pheaktra, a spokesman for the Ministry of Environment, yesterday said that the ministry’s rangers have been stationed to patrol protected areas and intensify efforts to crack down on natural resource crimes and illegal wildlife hunting.

Earlier this week, rangers in Stung Treng province raided Stung Treng market, confiscating three slow lorises, one civet, two porcupine stomachs, nearly three kilograms of porcupine meat, nine kilograms of monitor lizard meat, 47 kilograms of dried deer and 60 kilograms of boar meat.

“This is destroying wildlife and the perpetrators have to face legal consequences,” Mr Pheaktra said.

After the crackdown, the wild meat was burned and destroyed by officials. Police are currently still searching for the perpetrators, who had allegedly been aware of the crackdown and escaped.

Mr Pheaktra noted that while natural resources and wildlife crimes still continue to occur, the number of crimes has decreased due to strengthened law enforcement, education, dissemination of information, and the spread of leaflets urging those who witness any wildlife crimes to report the incident.

“Due to effective efforts on the protection of natural resources, many wild animals have seen an increase in numbers, including wild boars, deer and bears, as well as some rare species that are currently found in the Cambodian protected areas,” Mr Pheaktra said.

He appealed to all citizens to participate in the protection and preservation of natural resources and wildlife by not eating wild meat.

Ken Sereyratha, country director of Wildlife Conservation Society, yesterday commended the government’s efforts on cracking down on the wildlife trade.

“However, we want the crackdown to be continuous, which means to practice it regularly, not just doing it once and then pausing, which allows the criminal activities to still occur,” Mr Sereyratha said.

“And another thing, I think the [government] should pay attention and amend the law on relevant penalties because the wildlife crimes and trafficking have been taking place for a long time and we still only see educational dissemination, while the punishment is still low, meaning the perpetrators are not afraid,” he added. “I think we need more serious punishment on perpetrators.”

Seng Teak, country director of WWF-Cambodia, said recently that Cambodia is rich in natural resources and wildlife, including rare species. However, he noted that some important wild animals have become extinct or can no longer reproduce in Cambodian forests, while other animals are facing serious threats that can lead to extinction.

He called on all citizens to participate in wildlife and forest protection, especially to immediately put a stop to trapping, poisoning, hunting, buying, selling and eating wildlife as food.

“Ministries and authorities at all levels please continue to strengthen strict law enforcement and further punish perpetrators who are killing and trafficking all kinds of wild animals,” he said.

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