Senior Ministry of Environment officials and civil society organisations have expressed concern over the threat to wildlife by poisoning in rice fields, lakes and ponds where they feed.
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Cambodia country programme director Ken Sereyrotha said on November 6 that wildlife in northern Cambodia was under serious threat as criminals were depositing pesticides in seasonal waterholes.
As such, wildlife is threatened by the release of pollutants into waterways such as lakes, ponds, canals, rivers and some other places where they usually feed.
“We urge local authorities to educate, disseminate and intervene to nab the perpetrators of such wildlife poisoning.
“Please help prevent such poisoning and use of chemicals to capture wildlife for food or sale in the market. Perpetrators must be stopped and made to participate in the preservation of our natural resources and wildlife, especially our birds,” he said.
Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said on November 6 that the ministry, natural resources and wildlife conservationists, and other relevant authorities are concerned about the threat to wildlife.
This, he said, comes in addition to the traps and rifles that are used, and poisons that are intentionally or otherwise placed along the banks of lakes and ponds, inadvertently killing them.
He said previously, park rangers and stakeholders educated those living in protected areas not to use poisons on their crops.
“The ministry has consistently called on people to stop using poisons to catch wildlife because it not only kills them but endangers human life as well. In the past, some endangered species such as the giant ibis and vulture species have declined due to poisoning,” he said.
A 71-page research paper was prepared by the WCS and University of Edinburgh researchers in collaboration with the environment ministry.
It interviewed local authorities, 10 communities and people who poisoned wildlife to provide a first step assessment of the impact of such poisoning.
The research paper said most of the pesticides used were high-strength carbamates, which were deliberately placed in ponds to catch wildlife for the perpetrators own needs. This approach is said to be less energy-intensive and more effective, while the perception of health risks is lower and different.
The research paper said most people who use this method are men and children, but it is yet unclear if the practice relates to food insecurity. Species that are extremely endangered through such methods include giant ibis, vultures, and some birds.
Pheaktra said the study on wildlife pollution behaviours will provide a lot of information to the ministry and experts to put in place strict and effective measures to prevent it. This, he said, is also part of the efforts to protect and conserve wildlife and prevent adverse impacts on the people’s well-being.