Together, Toward the end of Snaring Crisis and Wildlife Trade in Cambodia

Rattanakiri Zero-Snaring Campaign kicked off yesterday to cease the snaring crisis and wildlife hunting in Cambodia’s protected areas and to prevent the extinction.

The campaign launch was organised by the Ministry of Environment (MoE) in collaboration with Rattanakiri Provincial Department of Environment, Rattanakiri Provincial Administration, NatureLife Cambodia (BirdLife in Cambodia), Conservation International- Cambodia (CI), Fauna & Flora International (FFI), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB), Wild Earth Allies (WEA), and Samsom Mlup Prey.

Initiated and led by the Ministry of Environment, and supported by conservation and development partners, the "Zero-Snaring Campaign" officially began in March 2022 in Phnom Penh. The campaign lasted six months and took place in six target provinces, including Stung Treng, Preah Vihear, Kratie, Mondulkiri, Kampong Thom, and Rattanakiri.

According to joint press release issued yesterday, Rattanakiri is the sixth and last province to hold this campaign before the wrap up in Phnom Penh in October 2022. Located in the Northeast of the country, Rattanakiri is rich in natural resources and wildlife. However, in the last decades, hunting, snaring, and poisoning have been identified as key threats that led to a notable decline in wildlife population and put some species are at the edge of extinction. Consumption of wildlife meat is a motivating factor for snaring and wildlife trade.

“The Zero-Snaring Campaign is a joint effort between the Ministry of Environment, relevant authorities, and NGO partners in conservation and development sectors, with the aim to eradicate all types of snaring from Cambodia’s Protected Areas, creating a haven for wildlife and biodiversity safe from the threat of snaring, and supporting ecosystem sustainability,” said H.E. Neth Pheaktra, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Environment and the Chairman of the Zero-Snaring Campaign.

“Wildlife plays a crucial role in sustaining the ecological system. The loss of wildlife and biodiversity causes imbalances in the ecosystem. Wildlife is also a significant contributor to the development of ecotourism that supports local economic development, creating jobs and income opportunities for the local communities. We will further commit our collective efforts to end the snaring crisis, while urging all wild meat consumers to say no to bushmeat and participate in conserving all wildlife animal species,” H.E. Secretary of State added.

“Cambodia is the leading country in Southeast Asia region to take concrete action to tackle the snaring crisis, which is a major driver of wildlife decline and extinction of some important wild animal species,” said Mr. Seng Teak, WWF-Cambodia Country Director. “Collective actions are needed to address this crisis, coupled with implementing environmental education and public awareness programmes, strengthening law enforcement efforts, increasing the penalties for wildlife criminals, and developing more alternative livelihoods initiatives for local communities,” he continued.

“We have supported the management and conservation activities in Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary since 2005, the monitoring result showed that hunting is increasing in the last few years. In 2016, at least five vultures died due to poisoning. Increase human access to protected areas is one of the factors that lead to the rise of snaring and poisoning,” said Mr. Bou Vorsak, Chief Executive Officer of NatureLife Cambodia, underling that to reduce this threat to wildlife, NatureLife Cambodia has worked with all stakeholders (include economic land concession holders) to conduct awareness about laws and importance of wildlife conservation and also support rangers and local communities to conduct law enforcement patrol and remove the snares from key habitats.

“The use of snare to catch wildlife is a significant problem across the country, especially in the forests of Rattanakiri. Much of this is to feed consumers, looking for wild meat, but the impact on biodiversity is extreme and we risk the forests becoming empty if this continues. We hope that this campaign has raised awareness across the country and will therefore help to reduce demand,” said Mr. Jackson Frechette, CI Cambodia landscape Director.

“Veun Sai Siem Pang National Park has an estimated of 389 groups (~1,556 individuals) of northern yellow cheeked gibbons. The ongoing population monitoring indicates that the forests of Veun Sai Siem Pang NP, Virachey NP, and Siem Pang WS have populations of northern yellow-checked crested gibbons at natural densities. This area is likely a global stronghold for this endangered species,” Mr. Jackson added.

“Snares are the biggest threat to wildlife in Cambodia’s forests. Cheap, easy to deploy, difficult to detect, and indiscriminate, snares are emptying protected areas of the wildlife they are meant to protect,” said Mr. Pablo Sinovas, Country Director, FFI Cambodia. “Action is needed now to reduce the demand for wild meat driving much of the snaring, and to strengthen enforcement.”

“Cambodia is known as one of the biodiversity hotspots in Southeast Asia. Some Cambodian biodiversity has been under pressure from threats. Of these, snares have been identified as one of the most serious threats to wildlife that play an important role as keystone species in ecosystems. On behalf of Wild Earth Allies, I would like to fully support the Zero Snare Campaign and call for Cambodians to stop wildlife hunting and wildlife trade,” said Mr. Tuy Sereivathana, Programme Director of Wild Earth Allies Cambodia.

“Snares are unselective and responsible for killing and severely injuring a wide range of species, from mammals to birds, in our forests. If the demand for the illegal bushmeat trade continues so will the snaring. Through effective law enforcement, in combination with education, we need to reduce the demand for bush meat and snaring,” said Ms. Christel Griffioen, Country Director for Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity. “Annually, on the first Saturday of September, we also celebrate International Vulture Awareness Day to raise awareness about vultures. Cambodia is home to three Critically Endangered vulture species, and vulture populations worldwide, Cambodia including, are declining rapidly. Not eating bushmeat is one way you can help protect Cambodia’s vultures.”

The Ministry of Environment in collaboration with partners is working to provide alternative livelihoods, including agricultural, agroforestry, and ecotourism initiatives, to the local people living adjacent to protected areas who are traditionally dependent on collecting non-timber forest products, and traditional hunting for meat and trade. This effort will also seek to transform people’s preferences and attitudes toward wildlife consumption to protect public health from future pandemic risks.

“To improve their livelihood, the local communities can engage with the Ibis rice initiative instead of snaring and hunting,” said Mr. Keo Socheat, Executive director of Sansom Mlup Prey.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press