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Investigation Leads to the Arrest of an International Bear Smuggler

On the morning of July 18th, after a long running investigation, the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team arrested a prominent, international wildlife trader. The investigation began when an informant provided details of a woman transporting a bear or bear parts from Thailand to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The team was originally notified of the trader’s car and registration plate number and had planned to follow the car to its destination to make the arrest. However, the trader changed cars multiple times, and the last tip the team received was the car type and the color of the driver’s shirt. The team found a car matching that description 70 kilometers from the Thailand border. They decided to pursue and stop the vehicle right away in order to prevent the offender from escaping and ensure the right person was arrested. The Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team searched the car and found a large cooler in the trunk containing the severed paws of an Asiatic black bear and a smaller cooler in the woman’s handbag with a bear gallbladder inside.

The woman was arrested and taken to the local Forestry Administration office where she was charged with trading endangered wildlife, a crime punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison. She will stay in pre-trial detention until her court appearance and is being questioned about the circumstances of her offence and others involved in the crime. Sadly, Asiatic black bears and sun bears are being brutally targeted by poachers in Cambodia for their body parts which are used in traditional medicine. Because of this active trade in bears and bear parts, their populations - especially in Southeast Asia – are rapidly declining. Cubs are torn from their mothers and sold into the pet trade. When they get bigger, they end up imprisoned in tiny cages or sold to bile farms in Vietnam. Wildlife Alliance has been working since 2001 to end the trade of wildlife in Cambodia and throughout Southeast Asia. Since then, over 160 trafficked bears have been rescued. However, the international demand remains high and continued efforts are needed to ensure the long-term survival of bears in the region. Help Wildlife Alliance stop the illegal trafficking of bears and protect Cambodia’s wild bear population by making a donation today.

The WRRT is a Forestry Administration law enforcement unit led by the Forestry Administration, in cooperation with the Military Police, with technical and financial support from Wildlife Alliance.

Wildlife Alliance was founded by Suwanna Gauntlett to offer direct protection to forests and wildlife through cutting edge conservation programs. The organization provides technical assistance and critical thinking to governments and strives for stakeholder consensus in achieving solutions to multiple environmental threats, including animal trafficking, economic land concessions for agro-industrial plantations and mining, and community encroachment on forestland. Wildlife Alliance is the leader in direct action in the Southeast Asian tropical belt.

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