A woman was arrested in Banteay Meanchey province on Monday, accused of smuggling Asiatic black bear body parts from Thailand.
Chan Vanak, 38, from Thmar Puok district, allegedly brought the body parts in a taxi through the Boeung Trakuon checkpoint where she was identified by an informant of the Wildlife Alliance’s Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team (WRRT).
“It is an Asiatic black bear, which is the most endangered species. The paws and gallbladder are fresh and bought from Thailand, from a forest area near the border,” said Vuthy Ravong, leader of the rescue team that confronted Vanak on National Road 56 in Kampong Svay commune, near Sisophon.
“Vanak claimed that her sister was ill and she bought the body parts to cure her,” Ravong said.
Sisophon Forestry Administration official Uk Hok Thavoreak said: “Our officials found four paws and a gallbladder of a bear with her weighing 10.5kg. She bought the parts and was attempting to take them to Phnom Pen for use in traditional medicine.”
Asiatic black bears and sun bears are often poached for use in traditional medicine. Gallbladders are particularly sought after because of bear bile’s purported medicinal properties.
Possession of bear body parts carries a potential prison term of one to five years and a fine of up to 100 million riel (about $24,000).
The evidence was seized as state property, with the paws and gallbladder being taken to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center in Takeo province.