Siem Reap’s Banteay Srei and Bakong forestry administrations on Tuesday released more than 100 turtles and water monitor lizards back into their natural habitats after authorities seized them from illegal wildlife traders.
Banteay Srei Forestry Administration deputy head Ly Sopha said they had seized a total of 131 turtles and water monitors, and released the live ones into a large lake located in Siem Reap town.
The animals were confiscated on Monday from unidentified traders behind the Angkor Era Hotel in the city’s Chreav commune.
“Among the confiscated animals, there were 78 live turtles weighing 478kg in total, and 53 water monitors, 36 alive and 17 dead, weighing a total of 219kg,” he said.
Bakong Forestry Administration deputy head Veng Ly said his team had received a tip-off from the local community regarding wildlife trafficking from Thailand passing through Banteay Meanchey province’s O’Beichoan border crossing, which heads towards Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.
After receiving the tip-off, Ly’s team waited along the route connecting Banteay Meanchey and Siem Reap provinces, stopping the vehicles carrying the wildlife.
Authorities then confiscated the evidence. In total, officials intercepted six wildlife traffickers driving two Toyota Highlander SUVs.
“While we were searching one car loaded with wildlife, the offenders jumped into another and escaped. After inspecting the car, our team confiscated the evidence. We eventually found the offenders and they will be sent to court for legal procedures,” he said.