A truck carrying 103 endangered yellow-headed temple turtles, six Burmese pythons and 11 reticulated pythons intended for sale in Vietnam was intercepted in Kandal’s Kien Svay district on Monday by Forestry Administration (FA) officials.
According to E Sophy, chief of the Kien Svay district FA, the 18-wheeler was loaded with 443 kilograms of turtles and 127 kilograms of pythons packed in bags.
“We got a tip that the truck was setting off from Battambang province,” Sophy said, adding that “it is the hugest ever crackdown” under his watch.
However, the driver of the truck managed to escape during the inspection because “we did not have many officers”, Sophy said.
Sophy said the individual responsible has one month to pay a fine before the case is handed to a court.
Yesterday morning, the animals, minus one turtle that had died, were handed over to conservation NGO Wildlife Alliance to be released in the wild or held at the Phnom Tamao wildlife rescue centre.
Sun Yoeung, Conservation International-Cambodia’s Mekong program manager, said the turtles are one of 12 endangered tortoise species in the Kingdom and are often trafficked to China and Vietnam.
“It is very expensive since it is used for medicine and food,” he said.
Burmese pythons are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN; reticulated pythons are not listed.
Separately, FA officials, military police and Wildlife Alliance staff on Sunday wrapped a three-day patrol in Kampong Speu’s Oral district in which they tore down two illegal logging camps, seizing 11 chainsaws and a dead peacock.