In an ongoing effort to protect wildlife and maintain ecological balance, the Ministry of Environment along with key partners have pledged to tackle the escalating issues of poaching and bush meat trafficking within and around protected zones. Civil society groups, meanwhile, have called for more expeditious legal processes pertaining to wildlife and forestry crimes.

The resolution followed the conclusion of the Zero Snaring Campaign phase II in Battambang and Pailin provinces on June 22. Initially launched in six provinces spanning the Cardamom Mountains, the initiative has consistently focused on eliminating the threat to wildlife.

Neth Pheaktra, ministry secretary of state who is spearheading the campaign, declared the completion of this phase but acknowledged that the battle against wildlife consumption remains.

“The ministry will persist in seeking additional strategies to highlight the significance of forest and wildlife conservation, particularly the impact of wildlife consumption,” he articulated.

Amid this struggle, Pheaktra attested to the efficacy of the campaign, which he says has substantially raised public awareness. Notably, he pointed to a visible reduction in the number of traps in forests and protected areas and the commitment from 103 restaurants and tourist venues to cease the sale of bush meat.

“We are united in our endeavour to conserve our forests and wildlife. The challenge lies in our ability to preserve forests and struggle to protect the animals if we can’t eradicate forest snares. Snares claim the lives of our wildlife daily. In Battambang province, we’ve demonstrated stringent law enforcement by removing numerous snares, thereby saving numerous lives,” he stated.

The initial phase of the Zero Snaring Campaign, launched in 2022, saw a decrease in collected traps from protected areas by over 30,000 compared to 2021, during which the ministry and partner organisations removed more than 60,000 traps.

Seng Teak, country director of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Cambodia, affirmed the commitment of partner organisations to continue the monitoring of legal measures, preventing the trapping and trafficking of bush meat, and ensuring zero traps in forests and protected areas.