Ratanakiri provincial Governor Thang Savun has called for strengthened law enforcement against illegal wildlife hunting and illegal wild meat trade in the province.
In a directive issued on Wednesday, Mr Savun said market vendors and restaurant owners who have previously served any wild meat in their establishments must stop the practice and adhere to the law.
“Wildlife hunting and trade is illegal and everyone must provide information on any suspected activity related to wildlife crimes to the authorities,” Mr Savun said.
“Stop all wildlife trafficking and the consumption of all types of wildlife,” he added. “In the case of any vendor found not adhering to this directive, the provincial administration will take action.”
Ken Sereyrotha, country director of Wildlife Conservation Society, yesterday said that he applauds the provincial governor’s move to issue the directive, but noted that more must be done.
“I think just releasing a directive is not enough, we must go out and crack down [on cases] and disseminate information about wildlife issues to the public,” Mr Sereyrotha said.
He added that consumers of wild meats are usually middle class people and foreigners who have the means to buy them, noting that wild meats are expensive.
Meanwhile, Mr Sereyrotha said that poor people could be involved in wildlife hunting. He noted that up until about 10 years ago, people in various forest communities hunted wildlife to sell. However, he said that most do not practice hunting anymore.
“Based on my observations, people who eat wild meats tend to have this perception that wild meat would make them stronger,” Mr Sereyrotha said. “We must enforce the law strictly on people suspected of committing wildlife crimes.”
“We should continue to disseminate information about wildlife issues and stop wildlife trade,” he added.
Environment Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra yesterday said that the ministry welcomes Mr Savun’s directive.
He noted that Ratanakiri is among provinces most vulnerable to wildlife crimes, in addition to Mondulkiri and Stung Treng province. However, he said that ministry rangers continue to work closely together with local authorities to decrease wild meat trade.
“We will take action against anyone found selling wildlife or wild meats,” Mr Pheaktra said. “Ministry officials will continue to disseminate information about the law related to wildlife trafficking.”
“I appeal to everyone to join in the prevention of wildlife crimes and to please not eat wild meats,” he added.
In June, 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.
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.