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Some Wildlife Managing to Recover: Official

Cambodia’s legacy of war hurt its wildlife diversity, but through conservation efforts, some wildlife is coming back, a forestry official said Thursday.

Elephants, tigers and other species were diminished by remaining landmines, said Men Phymean, chief of the wildlife protection office at the Ministry of Agriculture’s forestry department.

He dismissed criticism that government land concessions and deforestation were to blame.

“We passed through a war,” he said, as a guest on “Hello VOA.” “The war left landmines, that is what is causing the loss of some species. But as we have prepared some conservation zones, the wildlife is returing.”

Responding to worries about land concessions, he said Cambodian law carries stiff penalties, up to 10 years in jail and fines of 10 million riel, about $2,500, for illegal wildlife trade.

Meanwhile, Phnom Tamao Zoo Director Nhiek Rattanak Pich said 25,000 visitors per year helped the facility conserve rare species.