Two Vietnamese teenagers were arrested in Kandal province on Friday after being found illegally transporting 44 endangered tortoises, which they reportedly intended to smuggle into Vietnam for sale.
Voeng Tu, 19, and Thit Vrai, 17, were captured in Koh Thom district’s Sampov Lun commune, where police said they had captured elongated tortoises that live in the mountains in the area.
“Both suspects were freed and returned home after an eight-hour detention [where they were] educated and signed a contract promising not to capture and traffic wild animals,” said Koh Thom district police spokesman Men Seng.
Elongated tortoises are listed as “endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
The tortoises were handed to conservation NGO Wildlife Alliance, which will release them back into the wild.
In a statement, Wildlife Alliance yesterday congratulated local authorities for making the bust, but said they would prefer to see stricter measures taken against wildlife poachers and smugglers.
“For first offenses, often contracts pledging not to re-offend are implemented and the Wildlife Alliance would welcome stronger measures being taken,” the statement said.