Rescued sugar gliders - photo by Peter Yuen
Last month, the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team (WRRT) received information from a reliable source that a major shipment of wildlife was being transported along National Road 5 in a white Lexus. The team left immediately and was able to intercept the vehicle along the highway on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. A search of the vehicle resulted in the rescue of 40 sugar gliders, 15 hedge hogs, 18 water dragons, 8 variable squirrels, 3 Burmese pythons, 5 Brongersma’s short-tailed pythons, 9 garden fence lizards, 5 Nicobar pigeons and 4 grey bellied squirrels. The rescued animals were immediately transported to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center where veterinarian staff can assess the condition of each animal. Those deemed suitable for release will be released into protected natural habitat as soon as possible.
The trader, a Vietnamese national, was apprehended and taken to a nearby Forestry Administration office for further questioning. During interrogation, the trader admitted to purchasing the wildlife from Chak Thu Chak market in central Bangkok before crossing the border in to Cambodia. He intended to continue on to Ho Chi Min city to resell the wildlife for a substantial profit. Most of the species rescued are not native to Cambodia and do not fall within the Forestry Law legislation, so the trader was only fined $4,500 USD. However, details about the trader have been passed on to contacts in Vietnam where it is hoped further investigation will result in ongoing operations and apprehensions. This significant bust, as well as the rescue of a critically endangered pangolin that was also heading to Vietnam on November 11th, suggest that Cambodia is increasingly being used as a wildlife transportation route to countries like China and Vietnam. To address this trend, the WRRT has been strengthening ties with border authorities and customs officials to reduce transnational trading. This increased cooperation with border and airport officials has already led to several successful arrests this year, and we hope to continue to build on these relationships in the upcoming year.
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WRRT Intercepts Suspects Vehicle
A full search of the car revealed 108 animals
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