KAMPONG THOM, Cambodia, Aug. 13 (Xinhua): Officials and conservationists in Cambodia on Saturday called on people to say "no" to wildlife trade and consumption, saying that human-wildlife contact could pose risk to the transmission of viruses and diseases.
"I call on all individuals across Cambodia to say no to buying, selling, and consuming wildlife," Ministry of Environment Secretary of State and spokesman Neth Pheaktra said during the Zero-Snaring Campaign event held here in the country's central province.
"Consuming wildlife does not improve human health, wild meat and animal parts should not be used for medicinal purposes, and human-wildlife contact can pose risk to the infection of viruses and diseases," he added.
Pheaktra encouraged people to join the ministry and its partners to put an end to the snaring issue, to combat wildlife trafficking, and to protect the kingdom's wildlife and natural resources.
Pablo Sinovas, director of Fauna & Flora International (FFI)'s Cambodia program, said snares are the biggest threat to wildlife in Cambodia's forests.
"Action is needed now to reduce the demand for wild meat driving much of the snaring, and to strengthen enforcement," he said.
Sum Phearun, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Tonle Sap landscape manager, said snares kill and injure countless wildlife in Cambodia's protected areas every year.
"Addressing the snaring crisis across Cambodia's protected areas requires active participation from all relevant stakeholders from local to the national level," he said.
"Such a campaign needs to be conducted on a regular basis to raise awareness among the public, especially hunters and bush meat traders as well as wildlife lovers about the consequences of snaring and the importance of wildlife," Phearun added.
Jackson Frechette, Conservation International (CI) Cambodia landscape director, said the use of snares to capture wildlife is driven by the consumption of wild meat.
"Snares are a serious threat to all wildlife in Cambodia. In the Cardamom Mountains, we have clear evidence that most baby elephants are getting snares stuck on their legs, which will eventually lead to painful infection and death," he said. "Dealing with the snaring threat is a critical issue."
According to the Ministry of Environment, 61,611 snares had been removed from 72 protected areas and biodiversity corridors across the Southeast Asian country in 2021.
The Zero-Snaring Campaign, which began in March 2022 and will end in October 2022, covers Stung Treng, Preah Vihear, Kratie, Mondulkiri, Kampong Thom and Ratanakiri provinces, said a news release, adding that its aim is to eradicate snaring, stop wildlife trafficking, eliminate demand for bush meat and wildlife products in Cambodia.
"The effort will also seek to transform the people's preference and attitude in wildlife consumption in order to protect public health from future pandemic risks," the news release said. - Xinhua