PHNOM PENH, March 3 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia's Ministry of Environment and partner groups on Thursday launched a "zero-snaring" campaign in protected areas to protect animals from being trapped and killed, officials said.
The ministry's secretary of state and spokesman Neth Pheaktra said the six-month campaign will be conducted in protected areas in provinces situated in the eastern side of the Mekong River, including Kratie, Stung Treng, Ratanakiri, Mondulkiri, Preah Vihear and Kampong Thom provinces.
The partner organizations in the campaign included the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Birdlife International, and Conservation International, he said.
"The campaign is launched on the day that the world celebrates the World Wildlife Day, and it is aimed at raising awareness about the impact of snares on wildlife and human, enforcing the law, encouraging people to love wild animals and biodiversity, and eliminating poaching, trapping and trafficking wild animals," he told Xinhua.
The spokesman said snares are the most dangerous device to kill wild animals and that some 61,611 snares had been removed from protected areas in 2021, an increase of 42 percent from 43,270 in 2020.
"Snares are the hidden killers that have killed wild animals in Cambodia's protected areas," Pheaktra said, adding that there are many types of snares including electric snares and metal traps.
Kim Nong, general director of the General Directorate of Administration for Nature Conservation and Protection at the Ministry of Environment, urged locals to quit snaring wild animals, saying that under the kingdom's law, wild animal trappers can face imprisonment from one to five years and a fine of 15 million riel (3,750 U.S. dollars) to 150 million riel (37,500 dollars).
"During the six-month campaign, we will work with local authorities and communities to prevent wildlife trapping and to educate people about the law and penalties as well as the value of wild animals," he said.
The WWF's country director Seng Teak estimated that 20 percent of traps in the protected areas have been removed, as the other 80 percent remain in place.
"These traps are a key contributor toward the functional extinction of tiger in Cambodia and the rapid decline of the Indochinese leopard and other predator species, as well as bears and ungulate species," he told Xinhua.
He urged the authorities to take serious actions against perpetrators, bushmeat markets and restaurants that provide wildlife meats to customers. ■