Shortage of rangers leads to abundance of poachers

Source : Phnom Penh Post 

A sun bear drinks water from a stream as captured by a camera in Virachey National Park, Ratanakkiri province. Photo supplied

Rangers in Cambodia’s Southern Cardamom National Park, local police officers, and residents, have found a hunting dog and two sacks filled with wild animals – mostly dead – after a search in Terk Laork village in Thmor Bang district’s Chi Phat commune.

Eduard Lefter, law enforcement manager from the Southern Cardamom Forest Protection Program (SCFPP) and Tatai Wildlife Sanctuary of Wildlife Alliance, told The Post that the group had discovered four Bengal monitor lizards – of which two died – weighing a combined 10kg.

Other animals discovered were three dead water monitors weighing 3kg combined, and one live turtle weighing 0.5kg in the sacks.

“The animals that are still alive have been released to the forest. We burnt those that are dead,” he said.

Lefter said the team had traced the two people responsible for catching the animals by following a hunting dog that was chasing a water monitor, 50 metres away from where the team had parked their vehicles.

“We attempted to go after the two suspects but they managed to escape. Local people informed us that the suspects reside in O’Andong commune, Botum Sakor District,” he said.

Koh Kong provincial environmental department director Man Phala said the Southern Cardamom National Park, Dong Peng Natural Resources Area and Tatai Wildlife Sanctuary are short of rangers who could monitor and enforce wildlife protection, thus the rampant killing and smuggling of wildlife.

He said the authorities are constantly experiencing difficulty despite receiving assistance from organisations such as Wildlife Alliance.

Phala expressed hope that the rangers would extend their acts beyond what is assigned, for instance, by educating the local people in order to mitigate illegal activities in the forest.

“The prevention of illegal hunting, trapping, trading and consumption of wildlife is not solely the responsibility of the authorities or park staff. Everyone is responsible for it. People must stop trading and consuming wild animals,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Environment recently shared a report regarding wildlife preservation efforts in the Virachey National Park in Ratanakkiri province.

It includes a number of photographs captured by trap cameras that the authorities had installed throughout the park.

Between September 26 and October 4, the cameras captured some bears, monkeys, binturongs, red muntjacs, as well as rare ones, such as the Asian elephants, tigers and gaurs.

Ministry secretary of state Neth Pheaktra said on Monday that there are 7.5 million hectares of protected areas under the ministry, with 1,260 park rangers working to protect the biodiversity there.

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