A male banteng was found dead in Sorng Rukhavorn Wildlife Sanctuary in Oddar Meanchey province’s Samrong town on Saturday and was likely killed by hunters, said officials.

The banteng was commemorated at a Buddhist function on Sunday.

Ministry of Environment’s secretary of state and spokesman Neth Pheaktra said the Venerable Bun Saluth, head of the Sorng Rukhavorn community forest and provincial chief monk, led a working group in examining the carcass.

They concluded that the banteng, which had suffered two broken ribs, died 10 days after being shot by a hunter.

Pheaktra said this was the sixth banteng that has been shot in the forest in the last six months. The last banteng was discovered on May 24 and died after it had been trapped, despite the best efforts of veterinarians to save it.

The four other bantengs died from wounds suffered from traps and electric shocks.

“We must continue to investigate the poachers and ask people who have information on wildlife killers to please cooperate and inform the authorities so that the law can be implemented,” Pheaktra said.

He expressed regret at the loss of the rare species and urged authorities to continue their cooperation to enforce the law.

Pheaktra said he wanted to make sure anyone who enters the forest is not bringing in weapons or traps.

Saluth said the carcass of the most recently killed banteng was brought to the Sorng Rukavorn community forest office for a Buddhist ceremony on Sunday, the same day they buried the banteng that died on May 24.

He said despite community efforts, hunting is still a daily threat to the wildlife in the area.

Saluth said: “The banteng are rare but Cambodia is still home to some. All people must join in the protection and conservation of wildlife. We should stop the wildlife trade, stop eating wild meat and stop hunting wildlife.”

Pheaktra said from January to June this year, at least 10 bantengs were found dead in Cambodia’s protected areas.

One was found trapped in Kampong Speu province and six were trapped in Sorng Rukhavorn Wildlife Sanctuary.

Two more were killed in the area adjacent to Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary and one was found dead in a trap in the Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary in Mondulkiri province.