Wildlife Part Of Forestry Bill Approved Bill

Lawmakers Wednesday ap­proved a new chapter in a bill designed to conserve Cambodia’s dwindling wildlife as debate on the legislation reached its 11th day.

Parliamentarians approved Chapter 10 of the proposed fores­try law that makes “all wildlife in Cambodia” property of the state and makes it an offense to hunt, harm or harass all wildlife,” during the off-season, in protected pre­serves or with “dangerous meth­ods,” according to a copy of the bill given to the media.

The chapter passed, 83-2.

The bill prohibits hunt­­ing, trapping or poisoning pro­tected wildlife, owning or keeping pri­vate zoos, transporting, trading or doing anything to “ha­rass or harm” protected species.

The bill, however, allows Cam­bo­­dians to kill protected animals if they can show the animals were killed in self-defense.

Protected animals include the Asian elephant, the Siamese crocodile and some species of tigers. Although the law would permit crocodile farms, it would prohibit the taking of crocodiles from the wild, said Chan Tong Yves, Min­istry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry secretary of state.

If the law is properly enforced and the endangered spe­cies make a comeback, the government may revise the law to allow hunt­ing zones for poor Cambo­dians, Chan Tong Yves said.

The bill, drafted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Fores­try, has 18 chapters. It is designed to clarify and reduce  the stripping of Cambo­dia’s once abundant natural re­sources.

The draft legislation was promp­ted in part by ongoing in­ternational pressure from Cambo­dia’s foreign donors and conservation activists, who say the gov­ern­ment has allowed corporations to poach Cambodia’s wildlife and timber.

During debate on the chapter, Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian Son Chhay called for stiffer penalties for those caught poaching.

“Right now, the situation with the wildlife trade has been rampant, so the government needs to put steep penalties on those who hunt,” Son Chhay said.


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