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Two men charged after bust over illegal wildlife products

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Authorities lay out wildlife products found in a raid on Sunday. Wildlife alliance

Two men charged after bust over illegal wildlife products

At least two men were sent to Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Sunday for smuggling illegal wildlife products, which were found during a joint-force raid on two houses in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district on Thursday.

In the raid, the officials found a total of 56 wildlife products, including leopard, clouded leopard and sun bear pelts; elephant ivory; tiger claws and whiskers; and sun bear and Asiatic black bear claws and gallbladder, among many others.

Mov Manith, Sen Sok district governor, said police arrested two men in the operation, who were now being questioned by police, while he had already sent a report to the Forestry Administration in the capital.

The Post was unable to contact Keo Sopheak, the head of the Forestry Administration, for comment on Sunday.

Thomas Gray, director of science for Wildlife Alliance, told The Post on Sunday that an investigation by the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team (WRRT), after pictures of the products were posted on Facebook by smugglers trying to sell them to locals through the social media platform, led to the operation.

“In this modern age, Facebook is a dominant marketplace for buying and selling goods, including wildlife products,” Gray said.

He added that it was the demand for products from endangered species, as ingredients for medicine or materials, that encouraged smugglers to continue their businesses, with “rampant wildlife traders easily reaching a nationwide audience in both urban and rural markets”.

According to Gray, the suspects have been sent to Phnom Penh Municipal Court, but Prosecutor Kham Sophavy declined to comment on the case, saying only that he would order a court spokesperson to giveThe Post details on Monday.

Article 49 of the Forestry Law prohibits the processing, hunting, transporting and trading of rare species, while the Law on Natural Protected Areas legislates for a one-to-five-year prison sentence and a fine of between 15 million riel and 100 million ($3,750 to $25,000) for those who prey on endangered species.

This bust comes nearly two months after Wildlife Alliance officials rescued three pangolins in Kampong Speu province in March.

Another crackdown in March saw authorities seize more than 200 kilograms of trafficked wildlife in two cases in Mondulkiri.

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