Ratanakkiri Attacks Poaching

Ratanakkiri authorities are clamping down on animal poachers and traffickers in response to the reported decline in wild animal numbers, officials said Tues­day.

Ratanakkiri Governor Kep Chuk Tema said the crackdown began two weeks ago when military policemen and environment officials began working closely to put pressure on poachers and traffickers.

Authorities have seized 306 kg of monitor lizards, 13 kg of scaly anteaters, eight turtles, 46 tortoises, 36 kg of py­thons, two cobras and a young deer. The live animals will be freed at Yak Loam Lake, an animal and forest re­serve in Ban­lung, the provincial capital.

No arrests have been made; in­stead, violators have been warn­ed, officials said.

Kep Chuk Tema and Under­secretary of State for Agriculture Chhun Sareth acknowledged that most of the animals—snakes, tortoises, turtles, anteaters and tiger parts—are typically taken to Viet­nam for food or traditional medicine.

“If the proper authorities try harder, the crackdown will be fruitful,” said Kep Chuk Tema.

The northeast provinces have many trails along the border where animal traffickers secretly take wild animals to Vietnam, ac­cording to Chhun Sareth.

He said the crackdown was launched to save endangered species of wild animals and water birds.

In Ratanakkiri province, officials estimate that tigers, elephants, sun bears and other exo­tic animals have declined by 70 percent in the past two decades.

In the province’s remote Vira­chey National Park, 20 park rangers were hired earlier this year to prevent poaching and illegal logging.

Chhun Sareth stressed that it is against the law to poach wild animals and water birds anywhere in Cambodia.

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