In Cambodia, tarantulas, victims of deforestation and gastronomes

The roasted tarantulas delight tourists in Cambodia, intrigued by this local culinary curiosity. But they are fewer and fewer in the country, victims of deforestation and hunters supplying the market in fresh spider.

"The a-pings are famous in Cambodia, but are now becoming increasingly rare", laments Chea Voeun, who sells fresh or already cooked tarantulas for twenty years in the market of Skun, a small town 75 kilometers from the capital Phnom Penh

Skun specializes in the zebra tarantula, called " a-ping "in Khmer, which earned him the nickname" city of spiders ". Some tourists come specially from Phnom Penh to visit its market, others make a gastronomic stop on the road to Siem Reap and temples of Angkor.

Australian tourist, Elisabeth Dark, describes "the crispy" of the flesh of the tarantula, whose scientific name is Cyriopagopus albostriatus. These spiders are also present in neighboring Thailand and Burma.

"I ate only the legs of the spider, this is the first time I tasted that, so I was a little afraid," says this tourist, who continued his gastronomic experience with frogs and locusts, also sold on Skun market.

 French fried tarantula sold on Skun market, March 14, 2018 in Cambodia (AFP - TANG CHHIN Sothy )

French fried tarantula sold on the Skun market, March 14, 2018 in Cambodia (AFP – TANG CHHIN Sothy)

"It's not what I would eat at home, but here I am here is an opportunity to try, "she explains.

The tarantula, often cooked soaked in garlic and salt then grilled in oil, is now sold for almost one euro coin on the market. Skun market. Ten times more expensive than a few years ago.

In question, the rarefaction of the animal, explain the salesmen: the tarantulas are more and more difficult to find in the neighboring jungles of the provinces of Kampong Thom and Preah Vihear

Tarantula is not a threatened species in Cambodia, unlike a leopard, tiger or Asian elephant. But like the whole fauna of this South-East Asian country, it bears the full brunt of the consequences of massive deforestation, which destroys their natural habitat.

"Cambodia is one of the countries of Southeast Asia with the greatest biodiversity ", but" the forest has shrunk by 20% since 1990 ", worries the NGO Fauna & Flora International (FFI): because of the development of plantations, including rubber trees, the illegal cutting of precious woods, often exported to China, but also the construction of roads and the absence of hunting quotas.

– Unregulated hunting –

 A Cambodian guide holds living tarantula on the back of his hand, March 14, 2018 in the market of Skun, Cambodia (AFP - TANG CHHIN Sothy)

A Cambodian guide holds live tarantulas on the back of his hand, March 14, 2018 in the market of Skun, Cambodia (AFP – TANG CHHIN Sothy)

"In Southeast Asia, it is hunting in the forests rather than destroying the habitat that has the greatest impact on biodiversity, "said Tom Gray, a biologist with the NGO Wildlife Alliance interviewed by AFP.

But for now, Skun sellers are still able to offer hundreds of fresh tarantulas, swarming in huge jute bags, to those who want to cook them themselves or make potions of traditional medicine.

Some traders like Chea Voeun offer tourists the opportunity to learn how to cook them and learn how to capture tarantulas in the surrounding meadows. It is a question of digging a well in the vertical of their underground burrow, recognizable by the spider's web obstructing the entrance.

"The tarantula is famous all over the world for its delicious taste and its medicinal qualities", Chea Voeun says. One can buy on the market decoctions of tarantulas macerated in rice alcohol: popular beliefs lend them the virtues of anti-cough and anti-back pain remedies.

 A Cambodian digs a well vertically of an underground trap of tarantulas to capture them, on March 14, 2018 in Skun, Kampong Champ province (AFP - TANG CHHIN Sothy)

A Cambodian digs a well at the vertical of a subterranean burrow of tarantulas for capture them on 14 March 2018 in Skun, Kampong Champ Province (AFP – TANG CHHIN Sothy)

In Cambodia and Thailand, grilled spiders, locusts and scorpions are found, insects being a traditional food in South-East Asia.

And in Cambodia, tarantulas have proved to be a popular source of protein during the Khmer Rouge period, which saw nearly two million Cambodians die, often from malnutrition in refugee camps. work

No Press Freedom in Cambodia

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Of the 75 journalists working on the pro-government and more independent media, surveyed anonymously for the report, 92 percent considered the closure of some radio stations and other media last year, politically motivated.

"The former sector offering democratic equivalents to free and critical news coverage – in the midst of countless television and newspapers affiliated with the ruling party – has been trimmed and left to shake, "the report concluded.

" Correspondents say work with consciousness full that they could be the next target. "

Ahead of this July national election, the government has drew up a protracted prolonged crackdown on dissidents who witnessed the only aggressive opposition party, its leaders imprisoned and senior members banned politics. Thirty-two radio channels in 20 provinces that broadcast non-governmental content and are often critical, last year were forcibly shut down by the government. [my/jm]

US and Cambodia Agree Continue Deportation Agreement

The United States negotiates an agreement to resume deportation of Cambodians who came to the United States as refugees through a controversial program.

Agreement between the two governments governing the return of hundreds of Cambodians from the US since 2002, failed last year when
Cambodia ceased receiving returning citizens.

US officials responded by rejecting visa applications by Foreign Ministry officials in September 2017. But Friday (9/2), Cambodian officials received from the United States in return for the withdrawal of the visa ban.

The issue was discussed during a meeting between Cambodian Home Minister Sar Kheng and US Deputy Secretary of State Carl C. Risch in Phnom Penh. Phat Phanith, director of the Department of International Relations, said the two agreed to resume the agreement.

"Samdech [Sar Kheng] also requested that the US government increase financial support to Cambodians returning home so they can start a new life better and successful integration into the Cambodian society. "

Previously, the refugees were repatriated to a country of origin that they had never lived without government assistance, resulting in some non-governmental organizations having to struggle to provide basic assistance. [vm/ii]

Throw 'Foreign Porn Dancers' from Cambodia

Lawyers for 10 Westerners arrested in Cambodia for allegedly posting photos on social media indicating that they were involved in a porn dance say they may have violated local morality standards, but should be expelled from the country rather than imprisoned.

Ten people from Britain, Canada, Norway, the Netherlands and New Zealand – was arrested last Thursday when police raided a party in a rented villa in the city of Siem Reap to the northwest and found people "dancing porn" at a party party at the bar. 19659002] Sourng Sophea's lawyer said on Tuesday that he did not know the condition of his detained client because he had never met them in prison. They are facing a one-year prison sentence if found guilty. [lt]

10 Foreigners Indicted to Make Pornographic Images in Cambodia

Cambodian prosecutors charged 10 foreigners on Sunday making pornographic pictures after they were arrested at a party in the city of Siem Reap near the famous Angkor Wat temple complex in the country.

Police say they raided a rented villa on Thursday where the foreigners were taking part in what the organizers called a drinking party and found people "dancing in a pornographic fashion." Although nearly 90 foreigners were arrested, all were released except 10.

Ke -10 people arrested consisted of 5 Britons, two Canadians, one Norwegian, one New Zealand and one from the Netherlands. The statement on the arrest was posted on the National Police website of Cambodia on Sunday. [gp]