Development threatens a last refuge of wildlife rescued from illegal trade (commentary)

A 2,300 hectare forest, where animals rescued from the wildlife trade in Cambodia are rehabilitated and released, is in danger of clearance under a new government scheme.

For over 20 years the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center (PTWRC), run by the Cambodian Forestry Administration and supported by the international NGOs Wildlife Alliance and Free the Bears (covered by Asia Sentinel in 2018) has served as the only place in Cambodia which will take all species of wildlife confiscated from poachers and the illegal wildlife trade.

At PTWRC wild animals are cared for and rehabilitated, and if appropriate, returned to the wild when their injuries have healed. This is a place where an elephant that lost a leg to a snare saunters around on a prosthetic limb, and where captive born Eld’s deer, sambar, muntjac, otters, binturongs, gibbons, and hornbills are regularly released back into the forests surrounding the rescue center itself, or into the forests of the world-famous Angkor Wat temples, and also into the gargantuan Cardamom Mountain Rainforest landscape.

And yet a recent report ominously tells that the release site—the 2,300 hectares of forest directly surrounding the actual rescue center—is in danger of clearance under a land transfer scheme.

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