Forty Vietnamese wildlife hunters were recently arrested deep in Ratanakkiri’s Virachey national park, a senior park official said Monday.
“We arrested them because they were hunting wildlife on Cambodian land,” said the national park official who requested anonymity owing to Vietnamese sensitivities over the issue and his office’s need to keep dialogue open with its neighbor.
“It’s difficult for us to take [illegal hunters] to the Cambodian authorities because we have no power and no road to cross this area,” he said. “We just educate them, get their thumbprints and make them promise not to come back to Cambodia to hunt again.”
The official said that the border in that part of Ratanakkiri province is exceedingly porous and patrolling the park has proven troublesome because it cannot be reached from Cambodia by road. To improve access, “we have asked the Vietnamese authorities to allow us to travel through their land to reach Virachey,” he said.
It was for this reason he declined to be named, fearing a backlash from Vietnam.
Prach Sun, undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Environment, said Monday that the government’s efforts to crack down on illegal hunters were meeting with limited success.
“We have had some difficulties because some hunters are from the armed forces,” he said. “But we have tried to educate them and other people about how what they are doing is illegal.”
But Prach Sun added that Cambodia’s wildlife was thriving. He noted in particular that the nation’s forests were seeing a growth in avian populations.
Cambodian representatives also touted progress in curbing the nation’s illegal wildlife trade ahead of an international conference on endangered species earlier this month.