YouTuber couple who posted videos of them skinning and eating endangered animals arrested

A couple tried to make money on YouTube by skinning and eating creatures like frogs, a king cobra and a fishing cat

                            YouTuber couple who posted videos of them skinning and eating endangered animals arrested
(Source: Getty Images)

Ah Lin Tuch and her husband Phoun Raty had a plan to earn some cash. They would procure a couple of exotic animals, cook them and eat them; all while being filmed for their YouTube channel. Unfortunately, the “exotic” animals that the couple chose for their prey include many endangered and protected species. The Cambodian woman has been arrested after sparking outrage online.

The mother-of-one made videos of herself skinning an endangered fishing cat, a large lizard and a number of protected species of birds. In the heavily criticized footage, she is shown cooking them on a campfire before eating them in the jungle near her home in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Some of the clips show Ah Lin tucking into a king cobra, a shark, a stingray and frogs. The footage sparked controversy when it became clear that the animals that the couple was feasting on belonged to protected species. The couple presented themselves as "survivalists" along the lines of Northern Irish adventurer, Bear Grylls.

"We are now in the process of taking legal action against them while the working group is preparing a report on the matter,” said Chea Sam Arng, head of the Environment Ministry’s General Directorate for Administration of Nature Conservation and Protection. "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 that made it to the would-be survivalist family’s table is the fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus). They are rare, elusive animals that are typically found in and around low lying, marshy areas like swamps, reed beds, tidal creeks and mangrove forests. They have been facing a steady decline in population.

Hunting of the fishing cat is strictly prohibited in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand. The lizard, the large heron and other species of birds that were featured in the videos are protected. Most of the clips have since been removed but footage of Ah Lin eating frogs, the cobra, shark and a stingray are all still up online. 

A manhunt was launched for the couple by the Environment Ministry on Wednesday, May 9. The next day, they appeared in public and admitting to cooking the animals. They also apologized for "destroying our wildlife." They claimed that they bought the animals from a local market before cooking them.

Environment Ministry officials are now investigating whether the animals were killed in the wild or procured from illegal local stalls while they prepare the case for the prosecution, the Sun reported.

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."

Ah Lin’s husband, Phoun, admitted that the couple were hoping to earn a living off their social media channel. They have so far made $500 from Google-sponsored advertisements that were shown on their clips.