Officials confiscated dozens of protected tortoises and lizards from a Battambang restaurant in Samlot district yesterday.
The raid was a joint operation that involved Forestry Administration and Environment Ministry officials, as well as Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation (MJP) rangers.
Owner Tieng Sem, 61, was arrested after 50 tortoises and 13 monitor lizards (three of which later died) were found at his restaurant in Meanchey commune’s Kampong Touk village, according to MJP operational officer Chan Socheat.
Socheat said the animals had been poached from the Samlot Protected Area.
Pailin province Forestry Administration official Min Ravuth said Sem was released later in the day after paying a fine. Ravuth declined to disclose the size of the fine.
Samlot Protected Area director Thorn Kimhong said that other animals found at the restaurant had already been chopped into pieces to be cooked.
The survivors had been released in a mountainous area in Pailin province, he added.