Market vendors in Stung Treng province claim the wildlife trade is still continuing despite frequent clampdowns and awareness-raising campaigns by the authorities and NGOs.
Stung Treng market vendor Roth Sary said the meat of wild animals such as muntjac, deer, banteng, wild boar, snake and turtle is still available at the market.
However, she said offenders do not sell wild meat daily and as openly as before, and that the market owner has also turned a blind eye.
“On Sunday, some vendors sold muntjac, wild boar and banteng meat at the market. The market manager did not prohibit them or report the matter to the authorities,” she said.
Sary said the practice has taken a toll on their business. “We are not happy when wild meat sellers appear on the market as it affects our business,” she said.
Provincial environment department director Eng Phirong on Monday acknowledged that the wildlife trade and hunting was still ongoing, but he said the illicit activities cannot be eradicated without the concerted efforts of relevant parties.
He said wildlife hunters had also changed their tactics from shooting to setting traps, making it harder for the authorities to stop the crimes.
“We launch raids on a regular basis to combat wildlife crimes. We acknowledge that there are shortcomings in our strategies to protect wildlife and prevent forestry crimes."
“The environment ministry or department alone cannot eliminate such matters. Wildlife protection needs the involvement of all relevant parties, including hunters and the local communities,” he said.
Phirong said that besides regular patrols and crackdowns by park rangers, the authorities have also launched an awareness campaign among vendors and residents in the province.
He urged the public to report crimes, including hunting and the sale of wildlife so that the authorities can act in a timely and effective fashion.
Phirong said park rangers had worked closely with local communities and authorities to patrol Prey Lang – a natural reserve forest spanning Stung Treng – and three other provinces, including Kampong Thom, Kratie and Preah Vihear.
Adhoc provincial coordinator Hou Sam Ol said he had seen a considerable decline in the wildlife trade after regular clampdowns by the authorities. While wild meat is still available at the market, he said vendors are more discrete now.
“Following frequent crackdowns, the sale of wild meat in Stung Treng market has decreased by about 90 per cent compared to last year."
“There were many types of wild meat for sale, including muntjac, deer, wild boar, and rabbit. Sometimes, the meat of endangered species like banteng is also available,” Sam Ol said.