POLICE have seized nearly 2 tonnes of wild tortoises and snakes they believe were destined to have been smuggled into Vietnam, Kandal authorities said on Thursday.
The animals were seized on Wednesday near the Chhrey Thom border checkpoint, said Kandal province Police Chief Eav Chamroeun, who called the find the biggest single case of animal smuggling provincial officials had ever seen.
It is believed the alleged smugglers brought the reptiles from around the Tonle Sap River and intended to ship them by boat to the neighbouring country. Eav Chamroeun said police have arrested two men caught driving the boat.
The catch included a shipment of elongated tortoises, which are listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list of threatened species, according to Lesley Perlman, programme manager for the group Wildlife Alliance.
Former prosecutor Huot Hy said that being convicted of smuggling endangered animals is punishable by five to 10 years in prison.
The seized animals have since been released at a “secret location”, said Prum Nol, an official with the Forestry Administration’s Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team.