Kampong Thom provincial police on Sunday questioned three men suspected of attempting to smuggle more than 1,000 lesser whistling ducks into Phnom Penh from the Cambodia-Thai border area, said provincial Forestry Administration head Bun Sothy.
Sothy told The Post on Sunday that three suspects were detained after their truck was stopped as it travelled through Kampong Thom province on Saturday. The vehicle was found to be loaded with more than 1,000 of the ducks.
He said that after the suspects were detained and their truck confiscated, the Forestry Administration released the ducks into Prey Pros Resort in Kampong Svay District’s Trapaing Russey Commune.
The suspects and the truck were sent to the Forestry Administration in Kampong Svay district to pursue legal procedures, he said.
“Now, the police are questioning the suspects for transporting lesser whistling ducks. I don’t know whether they will be fined or if the police will decide they need to be sent to court. My team is working on this issue and, after the report is made, I will follow legal procedures."
“As for the lesser whistling ducks, we didn’t keep them for long. They were released immediately after they were confiscated because if we’d kept them too long, they might have died,” Sothy said.
Kampong Thom provincial prosecutor Ith Sothea, who led the operation, told The Post that the police think some of the ducks were taken from inside Cambodia in the border area, while the rest were brought in from Thailand.
He said they were wild animals, not domestic birds, and they were being transported to Phnom Penh.
Sothea said the authorities had cracked down on similar cases in the past but none of those was of such a large scale.
“The suspects are being questioned. Whatever the outcome might be, we will follow the law whether to fine them or send them to court. As for the lesser whistling ducks, they are not a rare species."
“As far as [the suspects’] punishment is concerned, they might be fined and made to sign an agreement [promising not to repeat the offence]. If the ducks belonged to a rare species, the suspects would almost certainly have be sent to the provincial court,” he said.
Lesser whistling ducks are categorised by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a species of “Least Concern” – that is, they are evaluated as not being a focus of species conservation.