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Officials collect turtles in Koh Kong province on Friday after they were confiscated in Koh Kong province. Wildlife Alliance
Officials collect turtles in Koh Kong province on Friday after they were confiscated in Koh Kong province. Wildlife Alliance

Animals destined for Phnom Penh rescued in Koh Kong

Koh Kong’s Southern Cardamom rangers recently rescued 77 animals bound for Phnom Penh restaurants, Wildlife Alliance (WA) revealed yesterday.

Acting on an informant’s tip, 16 WA and Forestry Administration rangers raided buildings in Sre Ambel district and found 61 turtles and tortoises, 11 monitor lizards, four civet cats and one soft-shell turtle being held alive.

A suspect escaped but the authorities know his identity and are preparing to summon him to court. He faces at least a $3,000 fine.

“For this case, the client wants the animals killed prior to being delivered to Phnom Penh restaurants and shops,” WA said in a message yesterday.

Several soft-shell turtle species living in Southeast Asia are considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Provincial Forestry Administration director Oum Makary confirmed the raid yesterday but had not yet received an official report. Rescued animals were typically released back into the forest, he said.

Separately, a joint force raided a restaurant in Pursat’s Krakor district last week, confiscating more than 226 kilograms of meat from animals including the red muntjac, leopard cat, soft-shell turtle, porcupine, water monitor, snakes and rabbits, according to the Forestry Administration.

Under Cambodian law, it is illegal to hunt and consume wildlife but poaching remains a serious problem.

Additional reporting by Igor Kossov

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