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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Urgent laws needed to halt carnage

Urgent laws needed to halt carnage

A

N official admitted the Royal Government is virtually powerless to stop the

trade in rare animal products.

Loa Kim Song, deputy director of the

Agriculture Ministry's Wildlife Protection Office, admitted there was neither

the legal framework or the muscle on the ground to protect endangered

species.

He said: "We have regulations, but nothing has been done with

them. The hunting and trading still continues and we have no potential to

protect our national interests.

"Some big traders are backed by armed

men.We can not control them because we have no weapons or power."

At

present the only hunting regulations were two approved by the SOC government.

They are Articles 22 and 23 of Decree 35 in the Forest Practice Rules, passed in

June 1988.

Article 22 is very clear: "Hunting of wild game and birds

shall be absolutely prohibited until a new law is issued. The species of wild

game forbidden to be hunted shall be determined by prakas [regulation] issued by

the Ministry of Agriculture."

But unfortunately for conservationists, no

list of endangered species was ever issued.

They say it would be very

easy to compile as Cambodian wildlife species are present in neighboring

Thailand,Laos,Vietnam, and lists could simply be copied.

Cross-border

trade of endangered animals is controlled by the Convention on International

Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), which is

administered under the auspices of the UN.

Customs officers refuse trade

permits for seriously endangered animals listed in Appendix I and controlled

trade is allowed for less endangered species listed in Cites' Appendix

II.

But Cambodia's wildlife has yet to enjoy the protection of Cites as

the country has not yet joined.

The Wildlife Protection Office together

with the State Secretariat for Environment have drafted a hunting law in the

hope of closing the yawning loopholes.

The proposals have been forwarded

to the Agriculture Ministry for approval and will regulate the species, method

and time of year animals can be hunted. No decision has been made on penalties

for transgressors. International trade will be controlled by Cambodia belatedly

joining Cites.

Many conservationists agree that hunting is a source of

food, income and employment for many people and should not be banned.

If

sport hunting is strictly regulated it has no real impact on a healthy wildlife

population as only aged adult males are targeted, expers say.

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