In early July, the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team (WRRT) received information from an informant regarding a Vietnamese wildlife trader believed to be regularly traveling to Cambodia to purchase wildlife before returning to Vietnam where the wildlife was sold. The information suggested the trader was operating at various locations a short distance inside the Cambodian border in the province of Takao.
The WRRT commenced an investigation that included long hours of patrolling and surveillance before identifying the suspected trader. The suspect was operating from a roadside location approximately 4.5 miles from the Vietnam border and just off National Road #2 in Kampong Village of Takao Province. Surveillance indicated she was buying wildlife from a number of people who regularly visited her stall. Local residents informed the team that she was trading fish, eel and frogs.
On Tuesday, August 6, 2013, the WRRT apprehended the trader at the above location and rescued 57 spotted doves, 27 red collared doves, 1 water snake, 5 rat snakes. Several bags of chequered keelback snakes, white spotted slug snakes, common blind snakes and common blackhead snakes, weighing in at 41 lbs were also found.
When questioned, the 28 year old female trader confessed to purchasing the wildlife from various local sources with the intention of selling the animals in Vietnam. Indications are that the trader had been offered some level of protection by authorities on both sides of the border. In order to avoid any interference in the operation, the trader was transferred 19 miles to the local Forestry Administration office and the prosecutor was called to ensure the trader was dealt with in accordance with the law. When questioned further, the trader also informed the team that she was well known to authorities stationed at the border checkpoint and was never stopped or searched while crossing back into Vietnam.
As all of the species rescued were classified as common, the trader received a fine of 4,500,000 Riel ($1,125 USD). Rescued snakes were later released into suitable habitats, and as some of the doves had clipped wings and others appeared injured, all were transported to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center (PTWRC) to be assessed prior to release.
The recent acceleration in demand for wildlife in countries like Vietnam and China requires us to expand our efforts and impact. It is critical for us to continue to protect these animals.
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