Authorities in Kampong Chhnang province cracked down on stalls selling illegal wildlife meat along National Road 5 in Rolear Ba’ear district’s Toek Haut commune on Friday.
The operation was conducted in cooperation with the Wildlife Alliance NGO and resulted in nine vendors fleeing, and one being educated, as police seized 163 birds.
Nou Thearo, deputy district police chief in charge of the serious crime bureau, said the vendors were not operating honest businesses.
“We seized evidences of both wild meat and domestic meat to destroy them. We cooperated with the provincial police,” he said. “What is commonly known is that the vendors tend to lie to the customers that they sell tigers, but actually they are just normal cats. To cheat the customers, they cut off the head and legs to fake it.”
“However, they also sell genuine wild meat as well if they manage to get it, but it is rare,” he added. “They lie to the customers because they can get more money that way. They can sell the fake wild meat, like regular cats as tigers, for $20 to $30.”
Mr Thearo said forces seized 163 birds of different types, including herons, sparrows and doves, all of which were already dead and subsequently buried.
Chin Sophat, anti-economic crime bureau chief with the provincial police, said when the forces arrived at the stalls, the majority of owners fled, leaving just one vendor to be educated.
“We only stopped one person from escaping, while the others managed to do so,” he said. “They did not stay to solve the problems with us and get education. There were about ten stalls that we cracked down on. We observed that they rarely sell the wild meat now. Rather, they fake it as wild meat.”
“We try to prevent this because we feel pity for our brothers and sisters who are travelling along National Road 5 who buy the meat for cooking falsely believing that it is wild meat,” he added. “We cooperate with Wildlife Alliance officials who investigate this and request our help.”
Mr Sophat said that the vendors can continue their business so long as they stop cheating customers and stop selling wildlife meat.
“There is no law banning the sale of cats or dogs, so they can go on with it by honestly telling the people about it,” he noted.