Bush meat fines send an awaking reminder to sellers
Supplied by information from local informants and their own investigations, the two enforcement teams, comprising members from FA, National Gendarmes and Military Police, joined forces to investigate the two sellers located in the communes of Romenea and Spean Mean Chey in order to take action against illegal activity.
“Our interviews with the representatives of both restaurants show that they are aware of the crimes they commit as well as the provincial campaign involving restaurant owners, wild meat consumers, tourists and communities people to say no to wild meat and illegal wood,” says Mr Chhum Samnang, FA Official and Chief of the Provincial Enforcement Team, adding that, continuing demand for wild meat foods is the reason why sellers are willing to take the risk.
According to Article 96 of the Forestry Law, storing wild meat without FA’s authorisation is illegal and subject to serious fines determined by the law and regulations in force. The confiscated meats were taken to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre by the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team to feed tigers.
Ms Michelle Owen, WWF’s Programme Manager, says that forest crime is often driven by consumers who want to eat wild meat and have luxury wood furniture. This demand leads to hunting and logging in protected areas and continues the trade in illegal goods.
“For a reduction in forest crime, not only the sellers but also the buyers need to say “No” to illegal wildlife and timber products,” she says. “If someone buys wildlife and illegal timber products, they are supporting forest crime,” she adds.
The recent increase in confiscation is seen as a direct result of both the Mondulkiri mobile and protected area enforcement teams’ responsiveness and expanding network of informants. Since July this year, the teams have confiscated 199kg of wild meat including wild pig, muntjac and banteng, 40 live animals of loris, bengal monitor, snake, turtle and porcupine, all released back to the wild, as well as 5 dead animals of green peafowl, wild pig, civet and hog badger. The confiscations also include 11 chainsaws, 17 ox carts, 36 rounds of snare, as well as 11m3 of luxury wood. However, the problem is not confined to Mondulkiri; the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team rescued 414 animals in July and August alone.
“Recent successes in law enforcement have demonstrated a strong potential of how information from the public can help interfere with the supply side of wildlife crime,” says Mr Keo Sopheak, FA Mondulkiri Protected Forest Manager. “In the end, more information on wildlife crimes will make for better and more effective enforcement.”
* Wildlife crime in all its forms poses serious threats to Cambodia’s biodiversity. Illegal hunting has probably already extirpated Cambodia’s national animal, the kouprey, from the wild and puts pressure on all wildlife species, especially endangered species like Tiger and its prey species such as sambar deer, banteng, eld’s deer, guar and muntjac. Illegal logging is a more general threat to the integrity of entire forest ecosystems.
* WWF and the Royal Government of Cambodia work in two key protected areas in the Eastern Plains Landscape, Mondulkiri Protected Forest and Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary, of approximately 6,000 square kilometers to conserve endangered mammals including tiger, Asian elephant, wild water buffalo, banteng, gaur, eld’s deer, as well as critically endangered bird species. The project’s goal is to keep the last wilderness of Cambodia intact and connected, helping people protect their wildlife while sustaining livelihoods.
* WWF provides technical support to the Mondulkiri mobile enforcement team which was established in 2009. On call to operate all over Mondulkiri province, the team consists of officers from Ministry of Environment, National Gendarmes, Military Police, and is led by the Forestry Administration. In addition, over 30 staffs patrol regularly inside Mondulkiri Protected Forest and Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary.
* Illegal logging as well as selling and buying of wild meat are punishable offences and can be charged under the Forestry Law of Cambodia. If you see or hear of any such misdoings, call the National Wildlife Crime Hotline number 012 5000 94, or contact Mondulkiri FA’s Wildlife Crime Hotline Number at 012 40 41 43 for crimes in Mondulkiri. It will be a small step for you but a large step for the animal kingdom.