The Mondulkiri Provincial Court has charged and detained a man over wildlife poaching in Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary in Mondulkiri’s Koh Nhek district, leading to an outcry from a local forest chief.
Provincial environment department director Keo Sopheak said on Wednesday that 19-year-old suspect Hork Van, who lived in Nang Khylek commune, was detained by Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary’s forest rangers as he was using snares to hunt wild animals on Monday afternoon.
He said the accused, a Bunong ethnic villager, was charged by the court and placed in pre-trial detention on Tuesday.
The rangers, he said, had confiscated explosive powder, electric wire, spring traps imported from Vietnam and many string snares from the suspect upon his arrest.
“The provincial court decided to charge and detain the suspect in prison on Tuesday afternoon for hunting wild animals with snares in the sanctuary,” he said.
According to the Law of Natural Protected Areas, the suspect faces one to five years behind bars if found guilty.
However, his community was shocked to learn of his arrest and of the charges, arguing the accused suffers from a mental illness and meant no harm.
Koh Myeul community forest chief Keo Sothea said the accused would never have entered the forest alone to set such traps as he suffers from a mental illness.
He said the accused’s family is also too poor to buy such equipment to snare wild animals.
“I dare to claim that the suspect has a mental illness and I believe someone led him to poach wild animals in the protected area for their own benefit. The suspect would not dare to go into the forest so far alone.
“His family is poor, so how could they buy the expensive traps which were seized by rangers?” he asked.