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Kingdom committed to combat wildlife trade

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A baby pangolin is fed milk at the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre. Sahiba Chawdhary

Kingdom committed to combat wildlife trade

The Ministry of Environment has expressed its commitment to combat wildlife crimes, Environment Minister Say Sam Al said. He invited all stakeholders to take part in the effort.

Speaking at the British Ambassador’s residence on Sunday to discuss awareness of the illegal wildlife trade, Sam Al said the Kingdom already has mechanisms and laws in place to tackle the issue.

“As a UN member, Cambodia is ready to cooperate with international organisations and all countries in preserving natural resources as well as preventing and combating the illegal wildlife trade,” he said.

Ministry spokesperson Neth Pheaktra said on Monday, that the government has actively clamped down on illegal wildlife trafficking over the years.

He said since 2012 the authorities had seized more than 79kg of rhino horns, 42 tonnes of ivory samples, 167 bears and 375 pangolins. They also arrested 3,441 suspects.

And between 2016 and last year, 6,422 animal traps were found and destroyed.

A Wildlife Alliance Cambodia representative said yesterday that ministry officials and rangers from his organisation had recently detained two people in Cardamom National Park for illegally hunting animals.

They were caught red-handed and in possession of two homemade guns, a chainsaw and an illegal fishing tool, all of which were confiscated. The suspects have been sent to the Koh Kong provincial court, he said.

Optimistic about Sam Al’s commitment, World Wildlife Fund-Cambodia director Seng Teak said: “We are working with the ministries of Agriculture and Environment to stop illegal wildlife hunting. I see the ministries have been working hard on this.

“I think government institutions must toughen punishment on illegal hunting. Even those who walk into the protected areas should be severely punished."

“Legal enforcement is the most important thing. Only when legal enforcement is strictly implemented can the problem be solved, otherwise, it would be hard,” he said.

Teak said the authorities must also act against wildlife markets by proactively checking the restaurants that are suspected to be serving exotic meats.

“If there is a sale, there is hunting. There should be a hefty fine imposed on those who sell,” he said.