Three Chinese nationals were this week forced to pay a hefty $25,000 penalty for being in possession of rare wildlife pelts, skins and bones, but the punishment is unlikely to deter them from doing it again, according
to one of the people behind the sting.
Vuthy Ravong, project manager of Wildlife Alliance's Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team, which assisted in the bust on Monday, said there had been no reason to take legal action against the men since the species weren't technically endangered.
"Most of the evidence is from rare and common species, so there was no reason to charge them," he said.
Among the items confiscated in Monday's raid at the China Sichuan and Chongqing Chamber of Commerce in Phnom Penh's Tuol Sangke commune were 19 clouded leopard skins, 10 otter skins, four eagle claws, six Asian golden cat paws, six live tortoises and three macaques.
Environmental experts have said the haul was likely sourced by a sophisticated business and destined to fuel the illicit trade in China.
When asked if the lack of legal action would make the men more likely to continue trading, Ravong said: "Most traders never stop".
But, he added, they would continue to be monitored.