Wildlife conservationists and the Ministry of Environment have jointly launched a “Zero Snaring Campaign” in Stung Treng province calling for more active participation by the local community to stop hunting animals in protected areas.

Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said at the event on April 7 that participation from villagers, transporters, vendors, restaurant owners and customers is important to ensure the safety of all animal species, especially in cooperating by ceasing the laying of traps in protected areas, and stopping their consumption and purchase of meat and other animal products.

“We appeal to all Cambodians to say ‘no’ to consuming animals and to work together to preserve the natural resources sustainably,” he said.

Tho Thou Ros, a monk and chief of Sorng Rukhavoan Forest Community, said both monks and ordinary citizens play an important role in the protection and restoration of wild animal populations as well as other natural resources in the Kingdom.

“Cambodian monks acknowledge the importance, and their role in disseminating Buddha’s advice to educate people to stop eating or buying [animal] meats and to change their belief,” he said, adding that it is necessary that monks join the campaign and make people understand the importance of natural resource preservation.

World Wide Fund for Nature Cambodia (WWF-Cambodia) country director Seng Teak said that strictly implementing law enforcement and bringing snare setters, hunters and wildlife traders to court are essential means to end the killings.

“In addition, they must set up measures to close all markets that sell wild meats, and increase inspection by law enforcement officials,” Teak said.

“It is not too late to participate in the preservation and restoration of animal populations and natural resources, but we need to begin the work now, and at all levels, to set up urgent preservation measures,” he said, adding that without imminent action, Cambodia stands to face the loss of “valuable” wildlife.

Jackson Frechette, landscape director at Conservation International Greater Mekong, said the campaign will help increase public understanding of the dangers Cambodia’s wildlife face every day.

“To address these dangers, adequate resources must be provided to the wildlife protection agencies, who can adopt innovative solutions to address the root causes of the wildlife trade, and put nature on the path to recovery,” he said.

Stung Treng provincial governor Svay Sam Eang said the campaign is one which educates and increases the public’s appreciation for natural resources. It also encourages the participation by, and respect of law enforcement, who he said play a significant role in ensuring the sustainable preservation of such resources.