During an official visit to the United Kingdom to attend a conference on wildlife, Interior Minister Sar Kheng emphasised that Cambodia is cooperating with the international community to combat the illegal wildlife trade.
Mr Kheng led a delegation to participate in the International Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade from Thursday to Friday in London.
Senior government officials from 80 countries and more than 1,000 members from the private sector participated in the conference.
On his official Facebook account on Friday, Mr Kheng said Cambodia is not a country that allows the trade of illegal wildlife.
Mr Kheng said global changes have made Cambodia a target for poachers and traders who aim to export illegal wildlife products.
He noted that Cambodia has put in an effort to conserve its wildlife and that authorities have cracked down on the trade.
“Cambodia is not a country that allows illegal wildlife trade,” he said. “Cambodia is also not a country that allows [illegal] wildlife products to be used.”
Mr Kheng said the illegal wildlife impacts the environment.
“We will continue to enforce the law through strict punishment for those found guilty of illegal wildlife trading,” he said. “We will continue to disseminate information to the public so that they understand the value and necessity of wildlife and natural resources – which are important to the ecosystem – and generally focus to reduce the need for the consumption of wildlife and stop the trade of it.”
Mr Kheng added that Cambodia will continue to build relations with the international community to strengthen law enforcement.
During an awareness event at the residence of British Ambassador Tina Redshaw in Phnom Penh last month, Ms Redshaw said the government should actively halt the sale of wildlife in markets and stop the export of endangered plants and animals.
The British embassy said the illegal wildlife trade is an urgent global issue that damages sustainable economic growth and the livelihoods of vulnerable people in rural communities.
It added that the trade is worth about $22 billion per year and is the fourth most lucrative transnational crime after drugs, weapons and human trafficking.
According to an annual report by the Ministry of Agriculture issued earlier this year, there were 1,428 forest and wildlife crimes in 2017, with 778 cases ending up in court and the remaining 650 cases settled with fines.