A Cambodian couple are in trouble with the law after killing endangered animals and filming it to try and make money. The couple ran a successful YouTube channel where they went out into the rural areas around their home in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and caught many different types of rare animals that can only be found in small quantities as they are quickly dying out. In their videos, they can be seen skinning and cooking animals from protected species of birds to lizards, cobras and small endangered cats. Viewers realised the critters they were tucking down on were actually protected species after several of the videos went viral, and now the pair, named locally as Ah Lin Tuch and Phoun Raty, are facing criminal charges.
Tuch and Raty have defended their actions by saying they needed the money they made from YouTube ad revenue to feed themselves, and their survivalist-themed videos were made when the couple hadn't realised the animals they were hunting were protected. Chea Sam Arng, head of the Environment Ministry’s General Directorate for Administration of Nature Conservation and Protection, said: "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." The endangered animal in question was the fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus), while the lizard, a large heron and several other species of birds are protected.
The clips of the protected and endangered species have been removed from their channel, but it still remains up and features many more videos of the couple eating cobras, sharks and stingray. The couple said they did not hunt and kill the animals themselves, and instead bought them from a local market and deny all charges. Environment officials are currently investigating to find out for certain where the animals were killed after tracking the couple down online. Ah Lin said: "I don’t even know what kind of animals or birds we used or their impact on wildlife conservation. I bought the wildlife at Preak Phnov and we started filming our videos since December. Now I have already admitted my mistake." They made a total of $500 from Google's sponsored adverts before their videos.