Mondulkiri authorities are searching for a couple allegedly involved in illegal hunting and logging after a raid on their Pech Chreada district home uncovered a cache of endangered animal meat, traps, timber and firearms.
Pou Chrei commune police chief Trang Thoeun said a tip-off from neighbours prompted officers to investigate Sam Bros, 46, who had lived in the house with his wife for a year.
Thoeun said the Sunday raid of their property yielded some 10 kilograms of fresh banteng meat and five banteng heads, four rifles with more than 30 bullets, more than 100 planks of timber, a slow loris, a chainsaw and several traps. A wild cattle species, the banteng is considered endangered.
“The villagers told us about the illegal activities of the couple and we kept our eyes on them,” Thoeun said.
“They are the house owners and also suspects for owning the illegal items.”
Deputy district police chief Chreum Bren said the pair fled before officers arrived and the Forestry Administration had confiscated the haul.
Tom Gray, of WWF Greater Mekong, which works in the Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary and the Mondulkiri Protected Forest, said the raid gave a small glimpse into the serious threat posed by hunting to banteng, which are killed for their meat and horns and whose Cambodian population of 3,000 to 5,000 represents the majority of those remaining in the world.
“Cambodia is the only realistic option for saving the species globally, so it is really important that there is strong local enforcement.”
ADDITIONAL REPORTING SHAUN TURTON