Ever since YouTube transformed itself from a simple video hosting platform to a full-on industry of independent vloggers and movie-makers, people have been taking to the site in their quest for fame and fortune. A lot of people just vent about their life on camera, others review products, and some choose to perform so-called “pranks” in order to get that view count shooting upwards.
One couple, however, went down a slightly different route and decided that they would create a show in which they skinned, cooked, and ate exotic animals for the pleasure (or repulsion) of their viewers.
Unfortunately for them, their plan backfired, and the pair came under huge criticism after some viewers pointed out that a lot of the animals they consumed were actually endangered.
Ah Lin Tuch and her husband Phoun Raty, the couple behind the videos, are based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where weird and wonderful animals are much easier to acquire than they are in much of the western world. Rather than exhibit these animals while they were still alive, however, Lin was recorded preparing and eating their dead bodies as part of a supposedly “survivalist” lifestyle.
Throughout the series of videos, Lin was seen eating several protected species of birds, a number of frogs, an endangered fishing cat, a huge lizard, a king cobra, some stingrays, and even a shark.
Their venture didn’t last long, though, as many people took it upon themselves to report the pair to authorities.
The head of the Environment Ministry’s General Directorate for Administration of Nature Conservation and Protection, Chea Sam Arng, commented on the incident, saying:
“We are now in the process of taking legal action against them while the working group is preparing a report on the matter. The animals that were cooked were mostly not on the endangered list, but are protected. Only one species was in danger of extinction.”
Lin herself claimed that she did not know the seriousness of her actions. “I don’t even know what kind of animals or birds we used or their impact on wildlife conservation,” she said. “I bought the wildlife at Preak Phnov and we started filming our videos since December. Now I have already admitted my mistake.”
Indeed, the couple has since issued a public apology, saying that they were sorry for “destroying our wildlife” – but continue to insist that they bought the animals from a local market, and they had already been killed at the time of purchase.
Phoun also implied that their motivation behind the videos was actually money – not to showcase a survivalist lifestyle – as adverts on their videos had already earned them $500. This might not sound like a huge amount to us, but $500 goes a little further in Cambodia than it does in the US.
As a result of the videos being posted, the government are now investigating the couple and the markets where they claim to have bought the animals.
Though this incident is obviously very upsetting, we can only hope that Lin and Phoun’s actions will serve as a reminder of the importance of protecting endangered species, and looking after wildlife rather than trying to profit off it.