Mondolkiri provincial authorities were to announce a ban starting today on the widespread sale of wild meat in the province’s restaurants, part of a campaign with the conservation organization WWF against the sale and consumption of bush meat.
Seng Teak, WWF Country Director, said the year-long campaign–“Say No to Wild Meat and Illegal Wood Products”–was to launch today in Sen Monorom, the provincial capital, with an awareness campaign, including the distribution of posters and signboards, urging potential consumers to end the trade in wild meat and timber.
“The message is not only for Mondolkiri but also for tourists [coming to the province] and outside traders,” Mr Teak said, adding that a provincial hotline would be opened for people to lodge complaints about bush meat consumption.
Deputy provincial governor Heng Somnang said that as part of the campaign he would issue an order today banning restaurants in the province from serving wild meat.
“We’ll do an announcement to restaurant owners to stop doing business involving wild meat,” he said, adding authorities had made similar announcements in the past but that now restaurant owners will face high fines and closures if they are caught serving wild meat.
“I don’t expect all of them would stop doing this business but at least 70 to 80 percent would follow,” Mr Somnang said. “Almost all restaurants here now cook wild meat.”
Mr Teak said the campaign was part of WWF’s ongoing efforts to protect Mondolkiri’s wildlife and forests, where the organization is involved in protecting the province’s eastern dry forests, home to various endangered species, including tigers and Asian elephants.
“There’s now a lot of improvement in infrastructure [in Mondolkiri] which can facilitate timber and wildlife trade,” he said. “It’s important to conserve and protect the wildlife at this stage, especially the timber that is the wildlife habitat.”
“There are some consumers who use wild meat just for food, or use the wildlife product for traditional beliefs, such as that it offers protection, prosperity,” he said, noting that parts of the “Slow Loris,” a small slow-moving primate, were believed to treat syphilis.