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Korean TV Crew Faces Legal Action After Eating Endangered Giant Clams

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BANGKOK – Hat Chao Mai National Park officials have asked police to take action against the crew of a South Korean broadcaster who used endangered giant clams for cooking in a survival test filmed in Southern Thailand.

Narong Kong-ead, chief of Hat Chao Mai National Park, and Amnart Yanglang, the Koh Kradan supervisor, filed a complaint with Kantang police against the crew of SBS Broadcasting Center.

South Korean reality TV show Law Of The Jungle sparked public outrage in Thailand when one of its celebrity contestants Actress Lee Yeol-eum dived to the bottom of the sea in a national park and caught three giant clams – an endangered and protected wildlife species – for cooking in a survival test.

The officials said the catch took place on the Andaman Sea off Loh Udang bay, part of the National park.

Park officials show the pictures copied from social media showing a diver catching a giant clam in Hat Chao Mai national park in Kantang district in Trang. (Photo by Methee Muangkaew)

Actress Lee Yeol-eum was seen swimming with the camera crew in the sea at the Hat Chao Mai National Park of Trang province, southern Thailand, when she spotted and took the giant clam from among the coral.

In the TV show, contestants are also seen eating the giant clams Lee illegally caught in the following episode.

Law Of The Jungle is a reality-documentary show that airs on SBS.

The 55-minute program is also watched by many Thais.

According to the Bangkok Post the Thai firm Sixth Element Co of Thailand  who had asked permission from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation to film the TV program at Hat Chao Mai but were not allowed to touch the marine life.

The National Parks Department has already been in touch with coordinating firms to inform them of the wrongdoing and legal actions,” Narong said.

Scientifically known as tridacna gigas, the giant clam is the largest clam in the world. It lives on coral reefs and can grow beyond 1.3m in width and weigh up to about 250kg.

The soft muscle inside its hard shells contains a lot of protein and is considered a delicacy. A giant clam has an average life span of 100 years or more. Once it finds a place on a reef, it stays there for the rest of its life.

In Thailand, giant clams are an endangered wildlife species.

They are protected by the Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act of 1992, which prohibits the hunting and trading of protected wildlife.

Individuals who violate the law can face four years in jail and/or a fine of no more than 40,000 Baht (US$1,300).

Source: Bangkok Post, Channel News Asia