Wildlife enforcers raid restaurants with endangered animals on V-Day menu

MALACCA - Plans by several restaurants to serve exotic dishes to celebrate Valentine's Day in a town notorious for such eating habits fizzled out when wildlife enforcers raided the joints to seize numerous packets of near-extinct wildlife meat and several live species.

The enforcement officers from the National Parks and Wildlife Department (Perhilitan) raided the three premises in Machap Baru, about 7km from Alor Gajah, in a 5.45pm to 6.35pm operation on Feb 14.

A source told The Star that the enforcement officers from the Perhilitan headquarters raided three premises following a tip-off that exotic meat was on the dinner menu for Valentine's Day.

Since the 1980s, this town has been well-known to gastronomes with an appetite for exotic food and the restaurants stock their kitchens with snakes, river terrapins, salamander and different species of animals and birds, some of which are endangered.

In the first raid at Macap Baru, the raiding party seized 27 packets of meat, believed to be that of flying fox, 12 packets of civet cat meat and four packets each of macaque and river terrapin meat.

In the second raid, the officers found two species of live Red Eared Sliders (a semi-aquatic turtle) believed to be kept by the 52-year-old owner to prepare it as a candlelight menu that evening.

The final seizures at a kitchen of a restaurant in Machap Umboo were two live river terrapins.

The seized items are now being stored and kept at the department's office here.

The restaurant owners of the errant joints are expected to be charged within the next few days.

Malacca Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals chairman Vincent Low, in lauding the seizures, said many people went for exotic dishes due to the belief that such dishes possessed health properties.

"Some believe that stewed river terrapins cure cancer, civet cats relieve asthma and pangolin scales regulate menstruation.

"I think the dishes that were to be served on Valentine's Day supposedly had aphrodisiac values," he said yesterday.

"It is believed that the wilder the animal, the better its curing effects are for a particular illness," said Low, adding that more consumers had acquired a taste for such dishes.

He suspects that the supplies come from Pahang.