AN international conservation NGO working with the Cambodian government is
launching a new program to stop wildlife poachers and smugglers in their
WildAid, which is based in San Francisco and recently opened an
office in Phnom Penh, has partnered with the Department of Forest and Wildlife
and the Military Police to design and train a new wildlife protection unit that
will begin investigating and arresting traffickers.
On June 29, WildAid
completed a two-week training of 50 officers from Cambodian military, police and
forestry units. The intensive course featured hands-on instruction by former US
enforcement agents, as well as lectures from Cambodian experts on subjects such
as wildlife laws, litigation and enforcement actions.
session was followed by drills and role-plays of different scenarios, ranging
from identifying informants and collecting evidence to raiding homes and
"Now I'm ready to go investigate the markets and
restaurants in Phnom Penh where wildlife is being sold," said participant
Chamroeun Piseth, an investigator for the Royal Gendarmerie in Phnom Penh. "So
many species are endangered already and if we don't move quickly we're going to
lose them forever and our children won't ever know them."
already provided training to help Bokor National Park combat illegal poaching
and logging. Since January 1, Bokor officials have confiscated 8,827 snares and
52 chainsaws, and arrested 19 loggers, said Chey Yuthearith, director of Bokor
In retaliation for the successful crackdown, loggers
launched a grenade against park rangers on June 13, Yuthearith
Despite the progress being made, WildAid President Suwanna
Gauntlett says that much of the kingdom's wildlife is threatened by rampant
poaching and trafficking, as well as by habitat destruction from illegal
"Cambodia is a major target of this global trade, with its vast
array of exotic animals, and it is also a transit point for wildlife
traffickers," Gauntlett said.
"It's like the drug trade, but it could be
considered worse, since this form of contraband [wildlife] cannot be reproduced