A huge haul of endangered wildlife products was found yesterday in a property owned by a high-ranking official and rented by a Chinese national, officials said.
Forestry Administration officials, in cooperation with military police and Wildlife Alliance (WA), raided the property in the capital’s Tuol Sangke commune and uncovered an array of animals, skins and bones.
Among the items found were 19 clouded leopard skins, 10 otter skins, four eagle claws, six Asian Golden Cat paws and six tortoises.
The property is “owned by an excellency who rented [it] to a Chinese national”, according to the WA.
Huy Hean, a Tuol Sangke commune police official, said the Sichuan Chongqing Cambodia Development Association operates out of the property. “Two men who stay [there] were brought for interrogation by the expert police forces,” Hean said.
A housekeeper has also been questioned by the Forestry Administration, the WA said.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Forestry Administration official who took part in the raid said the two men had claimed they were not involved in the business, and named 48-year-old Liv Ely as the person who rented the property.
“We are still interrogating the two men. We do not know the real intention for those goods … whether they were [going] to be exported to another country [or not],” the official said.
Elizabeth John, senior communications officer for wildlife trade-monitoring network TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, said the scale of the raid and the animals involved were “very worrying”, citing the otter skins as a particular point of concern.
“Those kinds of numbers are very large … [and] those are some really rare animals,” she said. “The important thing now is that the people behind this are properly investigated and brought to justice. Traders must be made to realise that there is a cost.”