Customs authorities claimed to have found close to a tonne of illegally poached snakes and turtles next to a stream in Kandal province on Saturday morning.
The 364 kilograms of turtles, 16 kilograms of pythons and 433 kilograms of cobras were found alive and stuffed into plastic bags in Prek Chrey commune, Koh Thom district, said district customs and excise director Moung Dara.
Dara said a confidential informant had tipped the authorities off that a boatload of illegal wood or animals was on its way to Vietnam.
“They hid them by the time we saw the boat,” he said. “When we checked, we didn’t see anything but we kept checking along the waterway. We saw their footprints and we checked and saw the animals that they hid in the edge of the stream.”
The haul was partially submerged when authorities discovered it, and Dara said it was lucky that the water in that area was shallow, otherwise it might have been totally hidden.
Because the animals were not in the boat, the customs officials did not arrest or fine the alleged transporters, he said.
The animals were handed over to the NGO Wildlife Alliance (WA).
No one from the organisation was available for comment yesterday. In similar past instances, WA has released recused animals into the wild.
The haul of poached animals was the largest reported this year.
Additional reporting by Igor Kossov