By Saing Soenthrith
Two Chinese nationals were arrested and a large cache of exotic animals and valuable wildlife products was confiscated Monday in a raid on a Chinese Chamber of Commerce office in Phnom Penh, police and an environmental group said.
The raid on the China Sichuan and Chongqing Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia netted nine different species or their remains, according to Wuthy Ravong, rapid rescue project manager at Wildlife Alliance, an international wildlife protection NGO that cooperated with police to conduct the raid.
Mr. Ravong said that his team found five mountain tortoises, one turtle and three long-tailed macaques alive inside the building in Russei Keo district’s Tuol Sangke commune.
Also stored there were 7.6 kg of animal bones, 19 clouded leopard skins, three leopard skins, two tiger skins, 10 otter skins, two Sambar deer horns, six leopard claws and four claws of the white-bellied sea eagle.
“The suspect Chinese men have been sent to the Forestry Administration in Phnom Penh for questioning and court processing, but I do not yet know what will happen to them,” Mr. Ravong said.
Huy Hann, chief of Tuol Sangke commune police, confirmed that his men had participated in the raid but offered few details.
“Mixed forces from the Wildlife Alliance cooperated with forestry officers and a court prosecutor,” Mr. Hann said.
The skins of many of these animals are used as decorative pieces, while the bones and claws can be ornamental and are also used in traditional Chinese medicine.
In a July address by the standing committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora in Geneva, committee chair Oystein Storkersen noted an increase in the trade of tigers and other Asian big cats, including clouded leopards.