Kata Rocks
THE PAVILIONS PHUKET BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET Kata Rocks
The Phuket News Novosti Phuket Khao Phuket

Tarantulas off the menu

Tarantulas off the menu

CAMBODIA: While a plate piled high with hairy, palm-sized tarantulas is the stuff of nightmares for some, these garlic fried spiders are a coveted treat in Cambodia, where the only fear is that they may soon vanish due to deforestation and unchecked hunting.

animalscultureenvironmentland
By AFP

Sunday 15 April 2018, 12:30PM


A Cambodian man tucks into a salt and garlic fried tarantula – a coveted delicacy in the country. Photo: Tang Chhin Sothy / AFP

A Cambodian man tucks into a salt and garlic fried tarantula – a coveted delicacy in the country. Photo: Tang Chhin Sothy / AFP

Taking a bite out of the plump arachnids has become a popular photo-op for squealing tourists who pass through Skun, the central Cambodian town nicknamed “Spiderville” for its massive market of creepy crawlers.

But the bulk of the clientele are locals who are there to load up on a traditional snack known as “aping” that vendors say is becoming scarce – and more expensive – as rapid development wipes out jungle habitats.

“Aping are famous in Cambodia but now they are not abundant, they have become rare,” Chea Voeun, a tarantula vendor, said from her stall where she sells other fried insects including crickets and scorpions.

Voeun, who has been selling the delicacy for 20 years, used to source the spiders from nearby forests, where hunters dug them out of burrows dotting the jungle floor.

But those trees have since been razed for cashew nut plantations, forcing Voeun and other vendors to rely on middlemen to procure the spiders, which are harvested from faraway forested provinces.

That has jacked up the price of the tarantulas to $1 (B31.25) a piece, a nearly tenfold spike over the past decade.

For now the price surge is helping line the pockets of vendors who can unload several hundred spiders a day, but they fear that stocks are running low and will kill their businesses in the long-term.

“When the big forests disappear, these spiders will no longer exist,” said seller Lou Srey Sros, as tourists snapped pictures of children playing with the eight-legged creatures.

Locals say the spiders, whose taste has been compared to crab, are best prepared simply: dipped in salt and garlic and then tossed into a pan of sizzling oil.

Tarantulas have been part of the Cambodian diet for generations, prized for their purported medicinal qualities.

But they are believed to have cemented their place on the Cambodian palate during the brutal years under the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s.

The Maoist regime forced millions of Cambodians out of the cities and was ultimately responsible for murdering, overworking and starving to death nearly a quarter of the population in its drive to create an agrarian utopia.

Famine pushed many to forage for any sustenance they could find, eating everything from rats to lizards and tarantulas.

While the Khmer Rouge’s devastating rule came to an end in 1979, spiders stayed on the menu.

But the jungles which are home to them are now rapidly disappearing.

Cambodia has one of the fastest deforestation rates in the world, with huge swaths of forest cleared for rubber plantations and timber.

The Southeast Asian country has lost 20% of its forest cover since 1990, according to the conservation NGO Fauna and Flora International (FFI).

It is not just habitat loss but over-harvesting to meet a high demand that is driving the spiders out of existence, said Tom Gray, director of Science and Global Development for Wildlife Alliance.

“Across Southeast Asia it is unsustainable hunting in our forests rather than direct habitat loss which is causing the biggest impacts on biodiversity,” he said.

The tourist frenzy has helped fuel the tarantula trade, with bus loads of travellers stopping in Skun to taste the unusual snack.

“It just makes me a little bit swimmy because that was not what I would eat at home but I am here so it’s time to try them,” Australian tourist Elisabeth Dark said after taking a bite of a spider leg.

But for many Cambodians, the only fear factor is that the treat will soon run out.

“The next generations may not know about them because these beasts have become so rare, not like before,” lamented vendor Lou Srey Sros.

“As more people clear (forests) to plant cashew nut trees, they will be gone.”

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

CAPTCHA

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
Police begin hunt for foreign man over attacking dog

freaking out people running around angry with long knife or any other weapon should not be accepted....(Read More)


Police begin hunt for foreign man over attacking dog

I would like to volunteer,-giving this deranged POS exactly the same treatment !...(Read More)


Running Empty: Water officials to splash B277mn on private sources as reservoirs fail to fill

A lot of water contract talks ( including 30% arrangements?). However, that will not grand Phuket wa...(Read More)


Running Empty: Water officials to splash B277mn on private sources as reservoirs fail to fill

Bang Wad water reservoir is ready for making it a beginners drive for golf players. The grass just n...(Read More)


PHUKET XTRA: VIDEO: Second Phuket water crisis? ’Peace walk’ monk returns! Dangerously sweet! || July 12

No, not a second water crisis. Phuket still remains in it's 'first' water crisis, as not...(Read More)


Surin Beach’s temporary lifeguards on hold until further notice

This article shows plainly that as long Cherng Talay Tambon Administration not gets a good Chief/May...(Read More)


After Phuket student killed by electrocution, officials assure public park areas are safe

The PEA always insist that the neutral wire be earthed at the breaker, that way any leakage will tri...(Read More)


Student killed by electrocution in Phuket public park under investigation

Always willing to do stuff after the incident, maintenance, doing stuff to prevent problems! Go roun...(Read More)


Student killed by electrocution in Phuket public park under investigation

As an electrician you only have to look at the state of power poles with bare wires, electric boxes ...(Read More)


Surin Beach’s temporary lifeguards on hold until further notice

Wow...shocking level of irresponsibility by the OrBorTor. How can this even happen? Actually, irre...(Read More)