National resource conservationists have expressed concern over the ongoing poaching of wildlife in sanctuaries after many rare and endangered animals were found killed or injured by traps.
Bun Saluth, head of the Sorng Rukhavorn community forest, said poaching still occurred in the Sorng Rukhavorn Wildlife Sanctuary in Oddar Meanchey province’s Samrong town, despite efforts by authorities and the community to stop it.
“In 2021, many rare species were found dead and injured by the working group of the Sorng Rukhavorn community committee,” said Saluth.
Rare and endangered animals discovered in traps included Bentengs, gaurs, roe deer, civets and wild boar.
He said in the last three years, poachers have used traps instead of guns to capture animals because the devices are silent.
Forest patrols searching for poachers and other perpetrators of forest crimes cannot easily spot the hidden traps, which can be life-threatening to rangers.
“Some traps are used by poachers in conjunction with electric devices that can kill us if we step on or touch the devices,” he said.
Recently, a dead roe deer was found by the community in the Anlong Snob area in Trapaing Tav commune of Oddar Meachey province’s Anlong Veng district.
Venerable monk Tho Thou Ros, acting head of the Sorng Rukhavorn Community, said the deer had been trapped by poachers and the community committee team reported the incident to authorities to find and arrest the perpetrators.
“Deforestation offences have calmed down for the time being, but poaching wildlife and fish in the sanctuary continues at an alarming rate,” he said.
Ly Virak, Sorng Rukhavorn Wildlife Sanctuary bureau chief, acknowledged that poaching persists in the sanctuary despite efforts by park rangers and communities to prevent and apprehend offenders.
“The perpetrators often come and set traps at night when rangers are not patrolling. In addition, the size of the wildlife sanctuary is large, but our park ranger force is still limited,” he said.
According to Virak, the Sorng Rukhavorn community forest consists of 30,254ha covering three districts – Anlong Veng, Chongkal and Samrong. He said there are only six park rangers working to patrol and watch over this sanctuary.
“Wildlife crime would not end unless people stop eating bush meat, use animal parts for medicine or furniture,” he said.