Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Case of seized lion bones moving forward, NGO says




Case of seized lion bones moving forward, NGO says

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The lion bones seized in December are being examined. Wildlife alliance

Case of seized lion bones moving forward, NGO says

Authorities on Monday opened packages of more than 280 lion bones seized in December at the Phnom Penh International Airport as the case progresses against the suspected owners who remain behind bars, said NGO Wildlife Alliance.

It said the shipment of 281kg of suspected lion bones smuggled from South Africa was opened on Monday while two Vietnamese suspects remained in jail. Cambodian Customs officials were investigating the case, it noted.

“Cambodia is a well-known transit country in the illegal wildlife trade for products heading to Vietnam and China. It is suspected that the lion bones were intended to be transported to Vietnam where they are popular in traditional medicines.

“Wildlife Alliance is pleased to once again be working with our colleagues in Customs in another major Africa-Asia wildlife trafficking case,” the NGO said.

Last December, joint forces from the Ministry of Interior’s Anti-Counterfeit Products Committee, Customs officials, Camcontrol officials and a Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor seized the lion bones at the airport and arrested two Vietnamese nationals.

Court spokesman Kuch Kimlong, the Anti-Counterfeit Products Committee and Wildlife Alliance could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Last year, the Ministry of Environment warned souvenir vendors of trafficked goods made of exotic bones and wild animals that they would face legal action similar to those involved in money laundering and financing terrorism.

The notice came after 32 businesses in Siem Reap and Preah Sihanouk province were found to be selling souvenirs made from rhinoceros horns and elephant ivory.

In February, UK-based Traffic, an NGO working on anti-wildlife trade, released a report saying Cambodia had seized more than 17,000kg of ivory from 2009 to 2018, including a seizure of more than 3.2 tonnes of ivory in 2018 that came from Mozambique.

It said more than 780 ivory products were recorded in 10 shops in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in 2015, with hundreds more recorded in 2019. It said almost 25,000 live mammals, birds and reptiles were seized from 2007 to 2015.

The NGO said the challenges for Cambodia in combating wildlife crimes were low penalties for criminals which did not serve as deterrents, difficulty in effectively implementing the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and the country being a transit point for transnational organised crime groups en route to Vietnam or China.

Meanwhile, the World Wildlife Fund Asia Pacific offices on Tuesday applauded China for its decision to ban the trade of wild animals and end unregulated wildlife trade, linking the consumption of wildlife to the possible cause of Covid-19.

WWF regional director for Asia Pacific Christy Williams said in a press statement that Southeast Asian countries must learn from China’s example and ban the sales of wild meat for the health of their citizens and to prevent damage to their economies, as is happening currently due to Covid-19.

“This means that they must stop the trade from moving into their territories. As we saw in the case of the domestic ivory ban in China, the trade will just move across borders where enforcement is less robust, creating new trade hotspots,” Williams said.

MOST VIEWED

  • All inbound flights set to face added scrutiny

    Ministry of Health spokesperson Or Vandine said on Monday that the ministry is monitoring all inbound flights, after it was announced that only those from Malaysia and Indonesia will be temporarily cancelled from August 1. Vandine said on Monday that the two countries were identified as

  • Flights from Indonesia, Malaysia cancelled

    A Ministry of Health official has warned of the possibility of Covid-19 spreading through community transmission after the total infected cases in the Kingdom rose to 225. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine told reporters on Saturday that the possibility of community transmission cannot be overlooked and that

  • Man in quarantine dies of ‘overdose’

    The Ministry of Health on Thursday said a Cambodian migrant worker who died while being isolated at a quarantine centre in Tbong Khmum province’s Kroch Chhmar district may have died from syncope or overdose of tablets. In a statement, the ministry said the 21-year-old

  • Ministry set to reopen 20 schools in August

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport will allow 20 high-safety-standards schools to reopen next month despite new cases of Covid-19 in the country. Ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha wrote in a Telegram message on Wednesday that the schools are in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang.