The Forestry Administration, supported by the NGO Wildlife Alliance, yesterday filed a complaint against a “prominent” wildlife trader at Tbong Khmum Provincial Court for allegedly selling animals to Vietnam and refusing to pay more than $2,000 in fines.
The suit follows a joint FA-military police raid last week in Ponhea Krek district where authorities saved 85 live whistling ducks from cages around a house belonging to the alleged trader, Nham Sut, 53.
“She is known for buying wild animals in Cambodia and selling them to Vietnam illegally,” the Wildlife Alliance said in a statement.
A Wildlife Alliance officer, speaking anonymously, said that because whistling ducks are not endangered, the fine for trading them is double their market price.
Since each duck costs about $12.50, the total fine adds up to $2,125. However, Sut denied that the ducks belong to her.
“For this case, if she does not admit it, we cannot arrest her,” said the officer, adding that it was “impossible to believe that she didn’t know about it”.
According to the Wildlife Alliance, the ducks had their feathers clipped, but once they can fly again, they will be released into the wild.
Sarah Brook with the Wildlife Conservation Society said wildlife trade is a “significant problem” in Cambodia but gets little attention.
There is evidence that poaching in Cambodia is higher in areas close to the border with Vietnam.
Additional reporting by Igor Kossov