Game Chopped From Menus

Phnom Penh restaurateurs will be asked this week to sign an agreement not to serve wild animal meat such as deer and bear, environment officials said.

Chay Samith, acting director of conservation, said the crackdown is to prevent the slaughter of wild animals, whose numbers have been declining sharply in Cam­bodia during recent years.

“We will ask them not to serve wild animals as food,” Chay Sa­mith said. “If within a month they disobey the order, they will face legal action.”

It was unclear how many restaurants in the area serve such meat. Officials said restaurants that are known to serve wild animal meat will be investigated. Penalties for violating the agreement haven’t been set, officials said.

A manager at a restaurant along Route 6A said she doesn’t mind the crackdown even though she occasionally serves deer meat.

“We are not disgruntled when the restaurants are asked not to serve wild animal meat because it is not very necessary,” said the manager, who declined to give her name. She said her customers seldom ask for deer meat.

The crackdown won’t extend to freeing wild animals such as sun bears, which are on display at some area restaurants.

“Wild animals for exhibition or as pets cannot be rescued from the restaurants,” said Environ­ment Minister Mok Mareth, noting that there are no laws in place on this subject.

To rescue sun bears, environmental organizations have had to purchase the bears.

Meanwhile, Chhun Sareth, undersecretary of state for Ag­riculture, said Cambodia is about to become accepted as a full member of the Convention on International Trade on Wildlife, Flora, Fauna and Endangered Species, informally known as Cites.

“When we are accepted as a full member of Cites, Cambodia will gain a lot of advantages,” he said, including aid in inventorying and protecting wild animals from illegal trafficking and poaching.

Cambodia has been seeking Cites membership since 1995.

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