Cattle Smuggling and Fear in Cambodia

CAMBODIA - Cattle smuggling from Cambodia to Vietnam is flourishing, but local police are choosing to ignore the cross-border trade due to fear of violent repercussions.
calendar icon 27 August 2008
clock icon 2 minute read

Villagers in Svay Rieng's Sala Rean commune told Phnom Penh Post that packed cattle trucks were constantly moving over the border in open violation of Cambodian law.

Mechanic Chum Kroch said last week that trucks pass through his village regularly at 7:30 each morning on their way to the border. "In each truck [convoy] there are about 50 or 60 cows, and while I heard that they keep [the cows] at the border, in fact they are importing them into Vietnam," he told the Post. "These people must have high-ranking officers behind their business, because the border police don't dare to speak to them."

Chan Thon, a farmer from Sala Rean, said Vietnamese demand was encouraging Cambodians to sell cattle over the border. "It is a smart business.

The big cows are exported to Vietnam and the baby cows are kept in farms near the border," he said. "Vietnam doesn't only buy cows. They even buy our cow manure, so my village does not have as much manure [to use as cooking fuel] as in the past."

But Mao, a customs officer at the border in Kampong Rou district, said there was little he could do to stop the smuggling, saying that he was in a "simple position" and had no real ability to make arrests. "We know everything but we need to keep quiet," he said.

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