Efforts to stop illegal trade of endangered animals are gaining strength in some areas, including Southeast Asia. But now, officials must decide what to do with the thousands of animals rescued every year.
This issue is evident at the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center, not far from Phnom Penh in Cambodia.
Many of the animals arrived at the rescue center after being seized by Cambodia’s Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team. The team includes Cambodian government officials and military police.
Every year the team rescues hundreds of endangered animals.
A huge amount of money is exchanged in the illegal trade of animals. Well organized criminal groups and corrupt or uncaring officials remove species from the wild faster than they can reproduce.
The Phnom Tamao Rescue Center is home to about 100 sun bears. That is the largest population of sun bears in captivity. A number of moon bears also live there.
Pangolins are often called scaly anteaters. They are sometimes hunted for food and medicine. Those abilities have led them to become the most often seized mammal in Asia’s wildlife trade.
Thailand forms a major point of transport for smugglers. Officials there reported seizing more than 10,000 live animals and 1,300 animal remains last year.