The Forestry Administration and Military Police seized an assortment of wildlife parts, including those from rare and almost extinct species, from a sculpture shop in Chbar Ampov district, Phnom Penh on Monday.
One military policeman who participated in the crackdown but asked to remain anonymous told The Post that the crackdown was facilitated by the deputy prosecutor of Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
He said the units raided a sculpture shop known as “Chek Meng selling and carving sculpture” located in Doeum Chan village, Chbar Ampov II commune, Chbar Ampov district, and identified the owner as Mok Teprasei, 22.
“The confiscation of wildlife parts including elephant tusks, wild boar tusks, bear teeth, horns and dried reindeer legs was done after the authorities established that the owner of the sculpture shop did not have legal permission from the Forestry Administration to stock them,” he said.
A shop employee, identified only as Meng, told The Post that the shop has a legal permit issued by the Chbar Ampov district and that the wildlife samples belonged to customers who hired him to sculpt them into various forms. They don’t belong to the owners of the shop, he said.
“We just work as sculptors. We opened the shop and charge small fees to cover our daily expenses. We are not traders or hunters,” Meng said.
He said that some 30 sculptures in the form of the Buddha were also confiscated. He said he will need to pay refunds to the customers who own the wildlife parts, and that he does not know where they had obtained them or how much the owners will demand from him as payment.
“At present, we don’t know how to tell the clients because the authorities took all the wildlife parts. We don’t know what action the authorities will take against us,” Meng said.
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries spokesman Srey Vuthy told The Post: “The stocking of wildlife parts without legal permission from the relevant government institution is illegal.
“I have not received a detailed report from the experts yet because they are following legal procedures.”