The Ministry of Environment and Stung Treng provincial authorities torched about 3,700 homemade weapons and snares in the northeastern province to serve as a symbol for ending threats to wildlife caused by hunting and poaching in protected areas.

Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra told The Post on September 20 that the destroyed items included 31 air rifles, 64 homemade metal rifles, 61 wooden rifles, 71 shock and stun traps, 3,327 nets and 26 of other types of snares.

“We torched these snares as a symbol for ending the threat of traps in protected areas so that we can provide a safe habitat that allows maximum biodiversity of wildlife and helps provide incomes to people who go to collect non-timber forest products (NTFP) there and for attracting tourists to responsibly and sustainably visit our forests,” he said.

Environment minister Say Samal said at the event – held at Siem Bok Commune Hall in Siem Bok district – that protecting natural resources helps maintain the balance of the environment so that communities and park rangers can have better livelihoods and greater wellbeing.

He said new options for the rangers and the communities to generate income include planting saplings such as acacia, growing and harvesting fruit crops and smaller-scale subsistence crops as well as raising livestock for household consumption to ensure food security and reduce pressure on the forest due to their otherwise total reliance on natural resources.

He added that the main goal of the ministry in this area is to transform the traditional reliance on various NTFP for the livelihoods of local people into activities that support the conservation of natural resources and promote biodiversity in protected areas for sustainable living.

“We, together with local authorities, have provided new options for our people that are conserving forests and increasing incomes to improve the livelihoods of the local communities,” he said.

The minister also presided over the planting of grass for animal feed sufficient to raise 50 cows, which were handed over to the park rangers at the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary in Siem Bok to help them support their families and communities.