The Ministry of Environment and partners has announced the expansion of the “zero snaring” campaign to Kampong Thom after the campaign’s start in four other provinces, aimed at reducing snaring in natural protected areas to create habitat safe for wildlife.

Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said the campaign in the protected areas will begin on August 12 in the provincial town.

“Initiated by the environment ministry and with the participation of international organisations, the campaign aims to reduce traps from protected areas, provide safe havens for wildlife and encourage biodiversity,” he said.

Provincial environment department director Tob Kakada told The Post that it was important to set up a zero snaring campaign in the province to continue the publicity campaign to encourage people to stop eating wild animals and jointly reduce the wildlife trade while wildlife in the protected areas remain under threat despite the efforts of rangers.

“So we have to carry out this campaign in order to make people understand, especially those living in the protected areas and nearby, the harmful impacts of eating wild meat to the environment,” he said.

Kakada wants people to participate by helping to reduce hunting and snaring by starting other businesses and participating in the protection of wildlife in protected areas to attract tourists.

He said that in 2020 the number of snares found and removed increased, but in 2021 it decreased due to the presence of frequent patrols by park officials.

“We have taken measures to punish offenders, but at the same time we try to educate people, because the understanding about this issue is still low, combined with factors like poverty that make people want to catch animals and sell or eat them,” he said.

He said that the province did not have the larger rare animals such as tigers or deer, but that it remained rich habitat for many birds including rare species.

Kampong Thom has a total of six protected areas, including the Ramsar protected wetlands sites at Tonle Chhma Lake and Stung Sen, which are important habitats for migratory birds.

Seng Teak, country director of World Wide Fund for Nature Cambodia (WWF-Cambodia), believes that measures to strictly enforce the law and bring trappers, hunters and wildlife traffickers to court were necessary to end the killing of wildlife.

“In addition, measures must be put in place to close all local wildlife markets and there should be regular inspections by law enforcement officials,” he said.

He said it is not too late to work together for a positive change that would bring about the conservation of wildlife and rehabilitate the amount of wildlife in Cambodia.

“But we must start this work now, at all levels, to implement urgent joint conservation measures to conserve forest resources, wildlife and improve natural resources,” he said.

Teak expressed concern that if there is no immediate action, Cambodia would face losing much of its invaluable wildlife resources in the near future.

Kampong Thom is the fifth target province for the campaign after Mondulkiri, Stung Treng, Preah Vihear and Kratie.

In 2021, the ministry and partner organisations removed more than 60,000 traps from 72 protected areas and other biodiversity corridors.