HOPS in Phnom Penh's Street 168 are openly selling skins and trophies from
endangered Cambodian species, to the outrage of conservationists.
Assistants offered Post reporters skins of the extremely rare clouded
leopard for as little as $40, tiger teeth for $70-100, leopard skulls for $30,
gaur skulls for $70 and Eld's deer antlers for $20.
The tip of an
elephant's tail or the end of its trunk could be had for as little as $20 for
those looking for something a little different.
Many of the trophies
were stacked haphazardly on top of each other on shelves and gathering
One shopkeeper even had a live scaly anteater, another rare
Cambodian species, trussed up in a string bag. The pathetic creature, which
desperately struggled to get out of the sack, was on sale for $30. Strung up
alongside furs and displayed on the pavement outside were roasted stomachs from
assorted animals which are used in traditional medicines.
a safari guide in Africa, who alerted the Post to the trade said: "It is
obscene. If Cambodia keeps squandering its natural resources in this way there
soon won't be any left.
"It's terrible for tourists to see and they
[Cambodians] are going to drain their resources very, very quickly if this is
allowed to go on."
The half dozen shops selling the rare animal products
are nearly all next door to each other in the street and also retail traditional
Cambodian medicines, some of which use animal products.
On the street
outside the shop lay a dozen small monkeys or loris, which had been gutted and
roasted over a spit.
The cooked carcass sells for only $5 and is often
immersed in a large jar of white rice wine to make a medicine which is thought
to cure many ailments in the chest and stomach.
is made by crushing the roasted carcass with a mortar and pestle and adding the
pieces to honey.
Hunters can easily catch slow-moving loris, which are
found in most forest areas in the country. They are killed by slitting their
throat. Even their blood is collected and used for medicine. The bush babies'
internal organs fetch slightly more than the carcass and are used for a variety
of medicines to cure ills ranging from stomach inflammation to sexually
The owner of one of the shops, who refused to be
named, said: "I understand that this business is against Cambodian and
international law, but the government should protect the hunters first. Anyway
if I am not doing this, many other dealers would do the same thing."
shopkeeper said he is supplied with the rare animal products by middlemen who
buy them from hunters in Ratanakiri and Mondolkiri.
He said most of his
customers for the trophies are Cambodian dealers who then sell the goods to Thai
counterparts either in the border town Poipet or in Thailand itself.
shopkeeper added: "We have a few Westerners coming in, they mostly come to look
for a souvenir but they don't often buy."
The rare animal products trade
is not very profitable and most income is derived from selling Cambodian
traditional medicines, he said.
Once several years ago a Thai
businessman asked to buy a skull of the kouprey or jungle cow. The shopkeeper
said it would cost $5,000 but his suppliers were unable to find one. An
expedition to Mondolkiri in April found evidence that there may be as few as ten
head of the beast remaining.