Rangers from the Sre Pok Wildlife Sanctuary in Mondulkiri province intercepted two men and a minor allegedly smuggling more than 50 wild animals on Saturday evening, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Koh Nhek district police.
According to WWF spokesman Un Chakrey, suspects Sambath Vutha, 25, Sambath Vuthy, 23, and a 15-year-old boy, from Koh Nhek district, were arrested after rangers discovered them carrying 117 kilograms of live animals – including eight tortoises, 40 lizards, six snakes, one long-tailed macaque, and one palm civet – in their car. The three were released the following day due to the fact that the species were not endangered.
Chakrey said that wildlife smuggling is an increasingly common problem that has proven difficult to address.
“There has been massive confiscation of snares and illegal equipment in the protected areas recently. A lot of wildlife has been found in restaurants in the provinces and cities, even though there are NGOs and relevant government authorities working to stop the trading,” he said.
In response, he added, WWF has been “taking immediate steps, such as increasing the number of patrols and establishing a mobile law enforcement unit to check restaurants”.
Still, Chakrey continued, greater efforts are needed. “Action needs to be taken quickly,” he said.
All of the wildlife discovered on Saturday has been released back into the wild, according to Kan Penh, Koh Nhek district police chief.