Interior Minister Sar Kheng said on Friday that the Kingdom had fallen victim to wildlife trafficking and called on relevant parties in Cambodia and beyond to help stop the crime.
Speaking at the 4th Illegal Wildlife Trade conference attended by leaders from more than 80 countries in London, UK, Kheng said Cambodia had been used as a hub to smuggle wildlife species to third countries and beyond.
He said the rampant trafficking of wildlife had been caused by a growing demand in foreign countries.
“Cambodia is neither a country that allows the illegal wildlife trade nor has a demand for wildlife produce or for daily consumption. But the world’s situation has turned Cambodia into a place used to illegally transport and smuggle wildlife across the border to third countries,” he said.
Kheng said Cambodia is home to an abundance of natural resources and its geographical location in Southeast Asia makes it a convenient place to exploit resources, including mines and wildlife.
He said the illegal trade will not only lead to the destruction of the environment and natural resources but also cause many social problems including money laundering, terrorism, human trafficking, drug and illegal firearm trafficking.
“On behalf of the Cambodian government, I call on all relevant parties to take part in the protection and preservation of natural resources and wildlife."
“I appeal for close cooperation in sharing information and finding new initiatives and measures [to combat wildlife trafficking], ” he said.
Kheng said Cambodian authorities are determined to follow policies laid out during the wildlife trade conference on the protection, management and preservation of natural resources.
‘Weak law enforcement’
He said the government will take additional measures to strictly enforce the laws and continue to work with all relevant national and international institutions to prevent and combat all forms of illegal wildlife trades.
Forest, Wildlife and Natural Resources Protection Organisation director, Touch Nora, said the protection and crackdown on the illegal wildlife trade had not been effective because of weak law enforcement.
“We have the laws in place but some people do not follow the laws. Some government officials and powerful individuals violate the laws."
“This has been happening for a long time, not just now. We have a lot of people who work on wildlife preservation, but it not very effective,” the local NGO official said.