129 Animals Rescued from a Wildlife Trafficker

After receiving a tip from an informant, three Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team (WRRT) members immediately took action to stop an international wildlife trader from smuggling wildlife into Vietnam. Knowing the route he was travelling, the team members waited along a long and narrow village road for the man to appear. When they spotted his motorbike, a WRRT member ambushed the suspect and immediately confiscated his cell phone.  As expected, the motorbike was fully loaded with wildlife. Acting quickly, the WRRT transported the offender, his motorbike, and the wildlife to the Forestry Administration office 20 kilometers away. In this encounter, the WRRT confiscated 97 spotted doves, 31 red collared doves and a rat snake as well as the offender’s motorbike. Due to the “agreement of solidarity” between Cambodian and Vietnamese boarder provinces, Cambodian police asked for no actions to be taken against the Vietnamese wildlife trafficker. However, the WRRT did not accept this suggestion and the offender was charged a $476 fine based on the Forestry Law guidelines concerning the illegal trade of common species.

Our informant network has been essential to stopping wildlife crime across Cambodia. However, it’s not just paid informants that the WRRT gets tips from. Using the Wildlife Crime Hotline, a civilian led the team to Sangkat Stung Meanchey in Phnom Penh, where four peafowl were drawing in crowds of people. When the WRRT arrived, one of the birds had already been shot dead by a man with a slingshot, who has since been apprehended and fined. The other three peafowl were rescued and brought to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center for a health assessment before they were released. Green peafowl are on the IUCN Red List as “Endangered” due to over hunting for their meat and feathers, collection of their eggs and chicks, and habitat loss. Thanks to Wildlife Alliance’s Wildlife Hotline and the WRRT, three of these beautiful and rare birds will be able to live in the wild and will not succumb to the fate of so many others of their species. Just last quarter, the WRRT received 515 phone calls to the hotline, helping them rescue 671 animals. To help the WRRT continue their successful operations, visit our ‘donate’ 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.

The New Frontier - Ranger Station Opens in a Remote Area

Construction of a new ranger station was recently completed in Chhay Areng and it has been fully operational for three months. This is our first ranger station in the north and it is in an extremely remote area of the Southern Cardamom rainforest. Because it is so remote, people in this region are not used to their activities, such as illegal logging, forest clearing, and wildlife poaching being regulated. Prior to the new ranger station opening, our rangers positioned to the south were only able to patrol the region about once a month. With the Chhay Areng Station open and fully operational, we are expecting to see a decline in illegal activities and positive changes to the health of the wildlife populations and the forest.

Baby pangolin rescued by Chhay Areng rangers

Baby pangolin rescued by Chhay Areng rangers

This area of Southeast Asia is rich in biodiversity but, unfortunately, many of the species are under threat and are at least threatened of extinction, according to the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species. One of the biggest threats and a main driver of extinction in the area is the abundant use of snare hunting. These homemade devices cruelly and indiscriminately maim or kill any individual that crosses it. Because these traps do not target specific animals, many endangered species get trapped, further pushing populations to extinction. Due to the previous lack of control in the northern region there are still unimaginable numbers of snare traps set in the forests just waiting for the next innocent animal to pass by. Fortunately, now that we have a ranger station functioning in the region we have the manpower to search for and confiscate the snares. Unsustainable levels of snaring are currently driving an extinction crisis in Southeast Asia. In the Southern Cardamom National Park, the number of snares removed by Wildlife Alliance rangers nearly doubled in just five years, from 14,364 in 2010 to 27,714 in 2015. Because snares are cheap to make and require little effort to be effective, they are far more dangerous and devastating to wildlife populations than if everyone in the region were given a gun. Please donate to our “Stop the Wildlife Snaring Crisis in Asia’s Forests” to help our rangers eradicate snares in these lush forests.

Southeast Asia’s Biggest Bovine Rescued

Earlier this year, yet another snare victim arrived at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center (PTWRC), this time a bull gaur calf. The wild bull was entrapped by a snare in Ratanakiri Province when a villager spotted the distressed animal. Thankfully, the kindhearted villager notified the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team (WRRT), who were able to release the calf before the hunters returned. The team brought the calf to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Recue Center for medical treatment and care.

Although the calf did not have any open wounds, his left hind leg was severely swollen above his hoof. Through years of experience, caretakers knew that they would have to open the mass to drain toxins and fluids that had built up from the constriction of the snare. Without this procedure, an infection would likely cause this calf to lose its leg, if not its life. The gaur is now fully healed and is happily sharing an enclosure at our nursery with a rescued banteng calf.

Unfortunately, this calf is just the latest animal to arrive at PTWRC after getting caught in a poacher’s snare. Thankfully, our medical staff was able to heal the young animal’s wounds so he didn’t join the likes of Chhouk, the elephant, and Lucy, the pangolin, as resident amputees. This guar certainly will not be the last snare victim that arrives at the rescue center. The cheap and homemade weapons litter the forests of Southeast Asia and indiscriminately trap animals of all species, regardless of their size or endangered status. Thousands of animals suffer a slow and painful death every year in Cambodia as they are trapped by a wire noose. Wildlife Alliance’s rangers confiscate an increasing number of snares in the Cardamom rainforest each year, but the number of snares being set also continues to rise year after year. We are hoping to raise $3,000 to help our rangers combat this extinction driving crisis. There are only 42 days left in this campaign, so please make a donation today so we can prevent other animals from having to live their lives in captivity due to their disabling snare injuries!

Waterfall for World Otter Day 2017

At the end of the month, on Wednesday, May 31st, we will be celebrating World Otter Day! Join us on social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) to celebrate these cute and playful creatures and bring awareness to the threats they face! Unfortunately, 12 of the 13 otter species are declining in numbers and are at least Vulnerable to extinction. Cambodia’s three otter species are classified as Vulnerable or Endangered according to the IUCN Red List. Cambodia’s smooth-coated otter, small-clawed otter, and hairy-nosed otter are all threatened by the destruction of wetland habitats due to development activities, water contamination from pesticides, depletion of prey base, and poaching.  In Cambodia, otters are believed to have medicinal properties and are hunted for their fur and skulls.

To celebrate World Otter Day, we would like to build a waterfall for the four families of smooth coated otters that we care for at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center. These otters are extremely curious and playful so it takes a lot of enrichment to keep them as stimulated as they would be in the wild. Their caretakers are constantly giving them new toys that help them stay active and that mimic behaviors that they would need in the wild. The otters are provided with everything from hammocks to floating rafts, rope balls, scatter feeds on land and even live fish in their ponds. A waterfall would be an incredible source of enrichment for these spirited animals as it stimulates a stream environment, making hunting a bit more challenging and preparing them for a life in the wild, should a release site become available. Help us build an otter waterfall this World Otter Day so that the otters can celebrate too!