Cambodian Tiger Hunter Gets Seven Years in Jail
PHNOM PENH A Cambodian court sentenced the country's most wanted wildlife hunter to seven years in jail on Friday for tracking and killing more than 600 animals, including tigers and elephants, since 2001, officials said.
According to U.S.-based conservation group WildAid, 58-year-old Yor Ngun had killed over 500 banteng -- a species of endangered wild cattle -- 19 tigers, 40 leopards, 30 elephants, 40 sun bears and three Asiatic bears across 10 provinces.
"Even though he is too old to be in jail, he deserves it for what he did," judge Sim Soung told Reuters by phone from the southern coastal province of Koh Kong. "Hopefully we can contribute to saving our wildlife."
A highly skilled hunter, Yor Ngun is thought to have been trapping and snaring animals in the jungles of the southeast Asia nation since the 1970s, when Pol Pot's genocidal Khmer Rouge tried to turn Cambodia into an agrarian peasant utopia.
He was first arrested by the Forestry Administration in September 2004 in the eastern province of Mondul Kiri, but was released after signing a promise not to re-offend, WildAid said in a statement.
However, he was caught earlier this year in the southwestern province of Koh Kong carrying 82 bear claws and 25 bear jaws, said Sun Hean, an adviser to WildAid from the agriculture and forestry ministry.
"His photo was sent across the country, but we lost track until he was arrested early this year," said Sun Hean, adding that $500 had been found in Yor Ngun's pockets even though he claimed to be destitute.
Due to its decades-long civil war, Cambodia missed out on the rapid economic expansion enjoyed by its neighbours. However, its large tracts of virgin jungle, one of the region's last wildernesses, are now under pressure from illegal logging, encroachment and poaching, mainly for markets in Vietnam and China.