Rescuing wildlife from pagodas is never an easy task. On February 10, 2016, the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team convinced the monks at Prey Angkor Khnung pagoda to donate a Malayan sun bear. Years ago, a villager bought the young bear, who weighed only 2kg then, from a trader in order to prevent the bear from being trafficked to a bear bile farm in Vietnam. With the best intentions in mind, the villager took the bear to the pagoda to be cared for. The young bear had been able to freely run around the pagoda until recently, when the bear became too big to be safely kept outside of a cage.
It is a traditional practice in Cambodia for rescued wildlife to be taken to pagodas to be cared for by monks. The monks that care for the animals are often reluctant to hand them over to the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team and local authorities do not condone confiscating animals from monks without their consent. However, the team was able to persuade the monks by explaining that the bear would suffer greatly in the cage and would live a much better life at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center. The team was even able to show them photos of the sanctuary in Phnom Tamao to reassure them. When the monks agreed, the bear was treated by a Wildlife Alliance veterinarian and transported to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center to be handed over to Free the Bears for care.
The Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team has been integral in rescuing wildlife in Cambodia. In 2015 alone, the WRRT rescued 3,288 animals from 85 different species. The animals they rescue are always immediately assessed and either released or taken to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center for further assessment and rehabilitation. A staggering 2,548 animals of 45 species were released by WRRT in 2015. The WRRT is working to increase their informant network and improve their relationships with local authorities so that they can make a greater impact in dismantling the illegal wildlife trade in 2016. Join us in putting an end to the illegal trade by donating today.
The WRRT is a Forestry Administration law enforcement unit led by the Forestry Administration, in cooperation with the Military Police, with technical and financial support from Wildlife Alliance.