Smuggled Kratie Monkeys Rescued on Way to VN

More than 150 monkeys have been rescued from wildlife traders in Kratie province since the beginning of March as more local villagers are turning to hunting the animals because of the high prices being paid in neighboring Viet­nam, officials said Monday.

Military police confiscated 70 monkeys and briefly detained six people in four operations to catch wildlife smugglers in the first week of March.

An additional 86 monkeys were found and four people briefly de­tain­ed last week, Kratie’s Mili­tary Po­lice Commander Tea Kiet said.

Tea Kiet estimated that Cambo­dian authorities are intercepting just 20 percent of the wild­life being smuggled daily to Viet­nam.

“Everyday, there are many monkeys being smuggled to Vietnam be­cause the price is so high: Sev­enty dollars for each monkey,” Tea Kiet said.

Hunters trap the animals in Stung Treng and Kratie provinces and then transport them by cars, usually changing vehicles several times to avoid detection, to the border, where they are then smuggled into Vietnam, Kratie provincial po­lice chief So Nak said.

“Their tactics are like drug smugglers,” So Nak said, adding that he has ordered roadblocks set up in the province to stop the illegal trade, which has also precipitated the destruction of forests, which hunt­ers are cutting down and burning in order to trap monkeys.

Kratie’s First Deputy Governor Ky Sara said all transport of monkeys, even by private companies with a government license, must been halted, as the companies do not have permission from the prov­incial authorities.

Commercial monkey-breeding companies, specializing in rearing monkeys for sale to overseas medical experiment facilities, operate legally in Kandal, Takeo, Kom­pong Chhnang and Kom­pong Thom prov­inces.

An Environment Minis­try official, however, express­ed concern earlier this year that monkeys trapped in the wild are also ending up in the farms. Agriculture Minis­try officials have also called for the establishment of quotas on the numbers of monkeys exported from the farms.

“Our villagers have no jobs to do so they went to the forest to hunt mon­­keys,” said Kan Kim Or, a local en­­vironment NGO worker in Kra­tie.

Villagers can earn between $10 and $15 for a single monkey, Kan Kim Or said, adding that the trade is un­­­likely to stop since police and mili­tary police are freeing the smug­glers after they pay fines. “They do not punish them,” he said.


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