Residents of Sorya village in Oral district’s Tasal commune of Kampong Speu province claim that snaring crimes are still a serious concern in the Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary, especially in the Phnom Thom and Khnong Veal areas.

Vy Rann, a representative of the Sorya village community, told The Post that every month, in collaboration with wildlife rangers, his community removed more than 200 snares from the forest.

“My community refer to the snares as the silent killers of wild animals,” he added.

The Phnom Thom and Khnong Veal area wildlife sanctuaries are rich in biodiversity. They are home to many rare species of animals, including gaur, banteng, bears, fishing cats, elephants, deer, monkeys and peacocks, as well as large trees and rare plants. They are one of the Kingdom’s greatest natural tourist attractions, said Rann.

He added that snares killed many examples of rare wildlife and left more paralysed, as they fought to escape the traps. Some snares were created from bicycle brake cables or nylon. Some used electrified wires to kills animals instantly.

Rann, who serves as a tour guide for hiking and camping in the foothills of the Oral wildlife sanctuary and Central Cardamom range, expressed his strong concerns.

“All wildlife in the sanctuary will become extinct if the snares remain hidden in the forest. This is why our community works with the rangers to remove them whenever we find them,” he said.

Another resident of Sorya village, Khon Chhay, told The Post that besides the trapping of wildlife, other forest crimes were also taking place. The reason was that the forests were very isolated, so patrolling them was difficult.

In addition, the community does not have enough funding for regular patrols, with only three being mounted every two months. On each patrol, community members spend two nights and three days in the forest, thanks to the financial support and supplies from the Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary’s rangers, she explained.

“There did not use to be so many snares, but they are becoming more commonplace. When we patrol with the rangers, we find hundreds of snares, often with dead animals trapped in them,” she said.

According to Chhay, most of the dead animals were gaurs, bears and wild pigs. They had also found sokrom and koki trees that had been felled.

Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary director Hul Mara told The Post that halting forest crimes – especially snaring – was difficult, and was not the exclusive role of the rangers of the Ministry of Environment.

He said this work required the cooperation of all stakeholders, especially local authorities and community members. They should report all offending, and provide clear locations of the crimes.

“The involvement of local authorities and communities is crucial in preventing the catastrophic snaring of our wildlife,” he added.

Mara said that at the end of this month, he will lead the sanctuary’s rangers – in collaboration with local police and community members – on patrol in the Phnom Thom and Khnong Veal areas for one week.

On average, more than 40,000 snares are removed each year from protected areas, just about 20 per cent of the number of traps that are deployed, according to an early March report from the environment ministry, as it launched its anti-snaring campaign.

The report said that in 2021, more than 61,611 snares were removed from 76 protected areas and biodiversity corridors by rangers and forest community members.

They included electric shock snares, metal snares, hoops and more. Rangers often confiscate homemade firearms, he added.