A haul of elephant ivory and pangolin scales stuffed in what officials estimated to be “one or two” pieces of timber was found in a container at a shipping yard – to which it had been transported – in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district on Saturday.
According to Te Sokmuny, chief of the provincial department of customs and excise, authorities launched the raid at Phnom Penh Dry Port – managed by railway operator Royal Railway – following a tip-off from the Regional Intelligence Liaison Office (RILO) of the World Customs Organisation, to which the Kingdom belongs.
“RILO is an international NGO that shares secret information about crimes … If they have any information on illegal smuggling, they inform Cambodia to be ready for the bust,” he said, adding that the haul likely originated in Africa.
“We don’t know how many kilograms there are, because they were put in the timber . . . there are one or two pieces of timber,” said Vuthy Ravong, project manager of Wildlife Alliance’s Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team, which was involved in the raid.
Sieng Borin, chief of the provincial agricultural department, said the container had been transported to the port by train “from the direction of Sihanoukville”.
“The port owner is not responsible as [the port] is just a private place to store containers,” he said. “We are searching for the owner of the container.”
Experts have in recent years called Cambodia a transit point for the illicit trade of ivory from Africa to Vietnam and China, particularly after crackdowns in Vietnam, which used to be a top export destination.