Customs authorities in Kandal province confiscated dozens of snakes and tortoises during a bust at the Vietnamese border on Monday, though the wildlife smuggler managed to escape while the search was being undertaken.
According to Moung Dara, customs chief at the Chrey Thom international checkpoint in Koh Thom district, where the bust took place, the suspect was stopped while riding a motorbike with large baskets attached.
“He kept [the animals] in the baskets under dead rats,” said Dara. “All of them were found to be alive.”
Dara said the animals were handed over to NGO Wildife Alliance, which collaborates closely with national and provincial authorities on combating wildlife crime and which will release the animals into their natural habitat once any necessary treatment has been administered.
According to Wildife Alliance founder and CEO Suwanna Gauntlett, the seizure included 27 elongated tortoises, 13 reticulated pythons and nine rat snakes.
The elongated tortoise is listed as “endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Gauntlett yesterday welcomed the bust, saying it is a mark of the increasingly prominent role customs and provincial authorities are taking in enforcing wildlife crimes in Cambodia.
“It shows on the part of customs very good will and a promising future for the cause of interdicting illegally hunted wildlife in Cambodia,” she said.
Demand for illegal wildlife products is largely driven by the Chinese market, Gauntlett noted, with that demand unlikely to abate anytime soon.