A driver for a local bus operator was taken into custody by Kampong Chhnang Military Police officials after being caught with around 150 kilograms of illegal wildlife, including snakes, civets and turtles.
The bus, which belonged to BPA Transport, was travelling from Poipet to Phnom Penh, when forestry officials in Kampong Chhnang’s Thpong district stopped it and found the large haul of live animals. The driver, Choem Seth, was taken in and questioned by Forestry Administration officials, said Hang Socheat, an official with the provincial Military Police.
“After the arrest of the suspect, we found evidence including a bus, 10 turtles, three civets and [many] snakes, and it was 150 kilograms in total. All of the evidence was sent to Kampong Tralach Forestry Administration to take further action,” he said.
Thorng Vanday Ravuthy, director of the provincial Forestry Administration, said none of the wildlife seized was endangered, and the animals were freed into a forested area with the assistance of WildAid Cambodia.
Following the questioning of Seth, Vanday Ravuthy said officials were yet to ascertain who sent the wildlife and were working with the provincial court to find the offender. The driver would only be fined, he said, in the amount of at least double the market value of the haul.
“However, if we find the [owner], then he is [engaging in] the wildlife trade, and the offender will be sentenced to one to five years’ imprisonment,” he said.