The government has begun a crackdown against restaurants in the capital that
serve wildlife. At a meeting November 16 the municipality compelled 50
restaurant owners to sign a pledge to stop selling wildlife meat.
Governor Seng Tong watched as the restauranteurs put their signature and thumb
prints on the paper, witnessed by enforcement staff from various ministries, the
police, and WildAid, a US environmental NGO.
Tong said the crackdown
would begin the following week in the Russey Keo district. Law enforcement
officers would pose as customers and the signed papers would be used against
those found flouting the law.
"It will be a hot measure against all
[types of] wildlife traffickers," he said. He urged district authorities to
enforce compliance: "If the trade continues [after next week] and the
restaurants are still found selling wildlife meat, it will be a lapse on your
As an added incentive, the municipality also announced cash
rewards for enforcement officers for the market value of any confiscated
wildlife or wildlife products. Any less, Tong explained, would only encourage
staff to collude with traffickers.
Restaurant owners were instructed to
alter their menus and display a sign outside their premises stating they no
longer serve wildlife meat. Many of Phnom Penh's restaurants have long listed
exotic cuisine on their menus. Among the species regularly dished up were
python, pangolin, bear, turtle, fruit bats, deer and wild boar.
owners said government officials were as much to blame for the problem. Lim
Khun, who owns the Heng Lay Restaurant across the Japanese bridge, freely
admitted his restaurant served wild boar, turtle and deer.
of my customers [asking for such dishes] are government officials and Chinese
people," he said.
Despite laws prohibiting the killing, transport, sale
or purchase of wildlife or wildlife products, the practice has
In its campaign in August, the government used the precepts of
Buddhism to link the trade in and consumption of wildlife to bad karma in this
life and the next.
Suwanna Gauntlett, head of WildAid, which has led the
campaign, said it had targeted demand and supply, and the measures were paying
Kong Song, owner of Ha-bourn Evening Restaurant on Street 182, said
he had specialized in serving turtle meat since opening in 1996, but had now
taken it off the menu.