Twenty-eight hard-shell turtles and eight snakes – weighing more than 50 kilograms – were seized from a minivan in Kampong Thom’s Kampong Svay district on Wednesday.
Two 21-year-old men, identified only as Phally, the driver, and Sarith, the reptiles’ owner, were arrested by the provincial anti-economic crime bureau and local police as they attempted to traffic the creatures between the province’s Stoung district and Kampong Svay district, where they intended to sell the reptiles, said Ang Sopheap, director of the provincial anti-economic crime bureau.
Wildlife conservation groups and local authorities have been trying to curb the hunting and sale of illegal species to avoid extinction, and to preserve Cambodia’s natural ecosystem. Hard-shelled turtles are particularly coveted as a Chinese medicinal antidote, thought to cure weak kidneys. Often, more rare species like hard-shelled turtles, are poached and bred with more common varieties, making it hard for consumers to know whether they are purchasing, or consuming, an endanger creature, according to a 2014 Post investigation.
The two men, both from Stoung’s Chamnakrom commune, were sent to the local forestry administration for legal action, with the illicit reptiles in tow.