A raid of Banlung Market in Banlung town, in Ratanakkiri province, uncovered 72kg of illegal bushmeat belonging to wild pigs, red muntjacs and monitor lizards, the local forestry administration and Military Police said.
Local Military Police commander Vannara Hai told The Post that the market would regularly receive shipments of red muntjac, sambar, wild pig, turtle, monitor lizard and exotic birds every two or three weeks to be sold.
“Military Police decided to burn the seized meat that evening and are searching for the wildlife meat traders in a continued effort to eliminate consumption of such meat.
“The wild meat vendors at the market usually sell early in the morning and late evening, they’re not a part of the traders who sell regularly at the market at all,” said Hai.
The trapping and sale of wild animal meat is prohibited under Article 41 of the Kingdom’s Protected Areas Law.
Heang Yort, a resident of Teas Anlong village in Ratanakkiri province’s Boeung Kanseang commune, told The Post that “the wildlife meat traders escaped immediately after seeing Military Police”.
Ly Sophan, Forestry Administration chief for Banlung district, was unable to provide a comment in time for publication.
“Bushmeat consumption in Cambodia is not driven by the subsistence needs of impoverished rural communities, as they typically rely on fish as their main source of protein,” said Fauna and Flora International communications specialist Tim Knight.
“It is mainly a recreational activity associated with male-dominated gatherings of friends, work colleagues or family members. The practice is linked with peer pressure, social status and – among the elite – the perceived health benefits of eating wild rather than farmed meat,” he said.
Earlier this year the Kingdom’s Forestry Administration’s department of wildlife and biodiversity announced that the majority of 20,000 bushmeat samples analysed since 2017 belonged to either bats or mice.
Illnesses, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Ebola, are believed to have spread to humans through the consumption of primates and fruit bats.
Wildlife Alliance Cambodia, which regularly accompanies forestry rangers on raids at wildlife traders’ homes and removes illegal traps from forested areas, reminded people to report eateries found to be serving bushmeat.
“Did you know you can send through reports of wildlife on the menu to us? Bushmeat is unfortunately still offered in many restaurants and market stalls in Cambodia.
“So if you see something suspicious on the menu, be sure to report it to us!” Wildlife Alliance Cambodia said.