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Owner of a medicine shop arrested for selling wildlife

Officials weigh an illegally poached pangolin during a bust on Monday in Kampong Speu province.
Officials weigh an illegally poached pangolin during a bust on Monday in Kampong Speu province. Photo supplied

Owner of a medicine shop arrested for selling wildlife

The owner of a traditional medicine shop in Kampong Speu’s Phnom Sruoch district was arrested on Monday for selling some 16 species of wildlife, including rare and endangered species.

More than 10 officials from the military and local police and Forestry Administration, led by Wildlife Alliance’s Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team (WRRT), raided the shop after receiving a tip.

Ou Commune Deputy Police Chief Bou Thy said live pangolins, Asian water monitors, civets and rare tortoises were being sold by the owner, Siek Socheat, 32, who is expected to be charged soon.

In addition, authorities seized 75 animal parts, including 41 bear claws, 11 boar tusks, 23 dhole teeth, antlers of the vulnerable Sambar deer, and several litres of loris and red muntjac blood mixed with rice wine.

“The shop sells a lot of traditional remedies, but it also secretly sells those animals,” Thy said.

A Forestry Administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media, said Socheat confessed the animals were brought from outside the area and that some were hunted in the Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary in Kampong Chhnang province.

According to the official, authorities also seized several live “star tortoises”, which are endangered and not known to be present in Cambodia.

The animal remains will be burned and living specimens will be sent to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center in Takeo province before being released into their natural habitat, according to the official.

In a separate case on Monday, five men were arrested in Battambang province by Military Police after being caught transporting more than 400 kilograms of wildlife from Banteay Meanchey to Phnom Penh.

The live animals included tortoises, cobras and lesser whistling ducks.

National Military Police identified the men as Im Sochea, 35; Pom Savuth, 25; Soeung Rotha, 20; and Sieng Huysochea, 20. The owner of the wild animals was identified as Chou Horn, 50. The men confessed they had made 20 trips transporting the animals from Poipet town to Phnom Penh, according to the police.

Battambang provincial Forestry Administration chief Pit Phearak said the case has not been sent to court yet but said the suspects will likely be freed if they agree to pay a fine because the animals they were transporting are not rare or endangered.

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