In late May, the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team (WRRT) was provided with intelligence regarding a large shipment of wildlife that was to be transported from Phnom Penh, Cambodia to Vietnam where it was to be sold. After a thorough investigation, the team learned that the transport was going to take place on June 3rd in Prey Veng province, so they headed there to intercept the vehicle. The Prey Veng Anti-Economic Police collaborated with the WRRT by taking up positions to intercept the vehicle and apprehend the wildlife trader if he took an alternate route.
The suspected vehicle was first sighted and stopped by the Prey Veng Anti-Economic Police who immediately called the WRRT team to help. When the WRRT arrived, the trader had just been apprehended after his vehicle was stopped and searched. The WRRT assisted with the prosecution documents and provided guidance to the Anti-Economic Police on the correct documentation procedures. They also trained the Anti-Economic police officers on how to properly handle wildlife while preparing the necessary documentation, such as inventorying the animals and parts.
As the trader awaited his court appearance, the WRRT transported all of the rescued wildlife to Phnom Penh where it was cared for overnight. In total, 665 kg of wildlife was seized including, 137 Bengal monitors, 387 rat snakes, 5 Asian pound turtles, 15 box turtles, 7 yellow headed temple turtles, and 138 water snakes. All of the animals have since been released in separate protected areas within the provinces of Koh Kong and Pursat with the help and cooperation of Wildlife Alliance’s Southern Cardamom Forest Protection Program (SCFPP) and Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) government officials.
This operation is evidence that joint operations with provincial authorities are happening more regularly, which has been beneficial to the wildlife, forests, and people of Cambodia. The involvement and presence of the WRRT also acts as an anti-corruption measure and prevents individuals from being persuaded to accept bribes of any kind. Had the team and the local authorities not been at the operation and successfully working together, it is quite possible a bribe could have been negotiated and the wildlife would now be on the markets in Vietnam instead of free in the wild. To help the WRRT and counterparts continue their successful operations visit our donations page and select ‘End Wildlife Trafficking’.
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 the Wildlife Alliance.