An endangered gaur was one of “many” wild animals found dead in “dozens” of illegal traps in Pailin province’s Phnom Khieu Wildlife Sanctuary, said Chit Thy, a military officer working with rangers to protect the conservation area, on Wednesday.
Thy, an officer in the 507 battalion, told The Post that among the wildlife harmed were wild boar and red deer. He said that along with the discovery of traps, police also found collected wildlife fur hidden in the park by hunters as part of a trafficking network causing the destruction of wildlife in Cambodia.
“Dozens of wildlife traps, some electric devices, were found in the conservation area, and the authorities have been removing them. We also released the animals from the traps back into the jungle,” he said.
Thy said he was aware of numerous illegal trapping and hunting incidents occurring in the park.
Leng Live, a resident of Pailin town’s O’Tavau commune, said he knew of wildlife such as turtles, snakes, wild boars, deer, and birds being sold in Pailin.
“Most of the pubs and nightclubs in Pailin sell wildlife as food, but most people who eat the meat come from Phnom Penh and other provinces,” he said, adding: “I really worry about the loss of our wildlife in Cambodia, as the authorities seem to ignore cracking down on the problem.”
Koem Sokha, director of the Department of the Environment in Pailin province, denied a lack of dedication in tackling the illegal trade in wildlife.
“I recognise that wildlife crime is occurring in Pailin, but we cooperate with other relevant institutions to suppress all such offences . . . and we have sent perpetrators to court,” he said.
Sokha said officers were on patrol at least 10 times a month in conservation areas to protect wildlife, although budgets were limited.
“We have a budget of 30 million riel [around $7,400] per year, and 27 rangers who patrol the wildlife sanctuary, which covers an area of 38,200 hectares,” he said. “Officers only receive 120,000 riel per month for forest patrols, but we do not complain because it is a duty that we must be responsible for.”
Sokha added that his team cooperated with local authorities to educate people on the importance of ending wildlife trafficking and in advising traders and restaurant owners to put an end to the sale of wild meat.