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Alleged bird smugglers questioned

Four people were questioned by military police on Sunday after 114 live wild teals were found in their car, en route to Kampong Cham province. 

The suspects said they had been hired to transport the birds, but declined to name who had hired them, police said.

The teals were bought in Siem Reap province and believe to be headed to Vietnam, Hem Sam Ang, military police commander in Kampong Thom province’s Stung Sen town, said.

The Forestry Administration has now taken over the case, he added.  

In a speech today in Pursat province, Prime Minister Hun Sen expressed concern over wildlife trafficking, calling for greater collaboration between government authorities to eliminate the trade.

The discovery of the teals is the latest in a series of wildlife trafficking incidents across the country.

A man was arrested last Saturday in Siem Reap after police found seven deer and wild buffalo horns and 201 kilograms of snakeskin in his home.  

The horns were each worth US$300-500 and the snakeskin $1 per piece, according to police.

A restaurant raid on December 17 in Ratanakiri province’s Banlung town turned up 10 live lizards and 12 kilograms of wild pig and deer meat.  

Earlier that week, two tonnes of Kenyan elephant tusks were seized by Malaysian authorities. The shipment, reportedly worth US$1.3 million, was headed to Sihanoukville.

Lesley Perlman, a program manager at Wildlife Alliance, said they saw an average of two smuggling cases a week.

“A lot of [the wildlife trade] transits through Cambodia and ends up in Vietnam and China,” she said.

The Forestry Administration recorded 73 cases of wildlife trafficking in the first six months of this year, with the confiscation of 2,584 animals and 477 kilograms of meat.

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