An activist monk from the Sorng Rukhavoan Forest Community called on authorities to search for poachers who trapped and killed a banteng in Oddar Meanchey province’s Anlong Veng district on February 18. Environmental officials said they were patrolling the area and searching for the offenders.

Venerable monk Tho Thou Ros, acting head of the forest community, said his team came across the offenders while they were in the act of killing the banteng. The patrol discovered the gruesome scene in Lomtong commune’s Prey Sanlong village.

“Our team heard the sound of a barking dog and went to investigate. When they arrived on the scene, they saw four or five offenders beating the banteng to death. Unfortunately the criminals spotted our patrol and managed to escape,” he said, adding that the carcass of the banteng had been taken back to the community’s headquarters, where a burial ceremony was conducted.

This was the first time this year that a banteng had been killed in the community, he said. Three cases were recorded in 2021.

He said wild animals in the forest community were lost almost daily to illegal hunting and trapping. Some offenders even used electrocution devices. He was deeply concerned that the losses would increase if the authorities failed to put a stop to these crimes.

“I call on all relevant authorities – especially the police – to find these offenders and bring them to justice. If the laws are not strictly enforced, then other criminals will become more daring. If these crimes remain unpunished, then the poachers will continue to hunt and trap here,” he said.

Provincial environment department director Phuong Lina said on February 20 that environmental specialists were working to identify the offenders and building a case file for referral to court.

He added that the department had laid out plans to review all of the streams in the area, but noted that few traps were set during this season due to the high number of wildfires.

“Nonetheless, we have designed a rigorous detailed plan to carry out inspections along those streams and creeks that are common water sources for wildlife, in case poachers have secretly set new traps,” he said.

Lina said the current focus of the department and its resources was land encroachment.