On the morning of May 27, 2013, Wildlife Alliance’s Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team (WRRT) conducted an operation at two separate premises suspected of being involved in illegal wildlife trading in Banlung City, Ratanakiri, Cambodia. The simultaneous raids were the result of information received from an established informant that resulted in the identification of the locations in question and the Vietnamese family believed to be responsible for the illegal activities. The undercover operation was successful and led to the seizure of 87 hill mynas, approximately 30 rat snakes, 6 monitors, 4 elongated tortoises and 1 king cobra. Rescued wildlife in good health were immediately released back into the wild in protected habitats in Mondulkiri; wildlife needing veterinary care were transported directly to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center where Wildlife Alliance’s staff oversaw the rehabilitation of the wildlife trade victims. As the King Cobra is classified as a rare species, the perpetrator is being charged with trading in rare wildlife according to Cambodian Forestry Law Article 98, and is currently being held in pre-trial detention. Since 2001, the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team, a wildlife crime investigation and counter-trafficking unit composed of government and non-government officials, has fought to curb the illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade in Southeast Asia. The WRRT conducts operations on roads, in restaurants, in forests and in known and suspected wildlife markets. The team travels around Cambodia, intercepting illegal shipments of wildlife, responding to tips from informants and anonymous sources, investigating known wildlife trade offenders for potential new offenses, and rescuing wildlife victimized by wildlife traders, or caught in human-wildlife conflicts. Since its launch, the WRRT have rescued over 56,000 victims from the wildlife trade, apprehended more than 2,500 wildlife traders, reduced wildlife trafficking country-wide by 75%, and decreased wildlife sales in Phnom Penh restaurants by 90%.
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Communications and Finance Field Liaison