Vendors in eastern Thailand deny monitor lizard meat sold at market

Bo Phloi market, photo by ThaiRath.

Vendors at a market in Thailand’s eastern Trat province deny that monitor lizard meat is being sold there. This news comes after two suspects arrested in the central Suphan Buri province claimed that the reptile meat was sold to markets in Trat along the Thai-Cambodian border.

Reporters from ThaiRath visited the Bo Phloi municipal fresh market in Trat’s Bo Rai district and found no monitor lizard meat for sale. Chicken, pork, beef and dry goods were sold to shoppers.

One pork trader and director of the market, Supis Tiengthaisong, said there is no record of any merchant in the market selling monitor lizard meat. Almost everyone in the district eats pork, beef, and chicken, he said.

Supis said, however, that he was not certain whether monitor lizard meat was on sale at other markets along the border since he had never inspected them.

A Cambodian vegetable vendor in the district, Chu, also told the reporters that Cambodians do not favour monitor lizard meat, preferring to consume pork, beef, and chicken, just like Thais.

Thai authorities arrested the two suspects in Suphan Buri for trafficking protected animals on Wednesday. The authorities seized over 100 carcasses of monitor lizards and turtles, making the largest number on record.

Authorities from the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Division, or Greencop, and U-Thong Police Station were notified that a house owner, later identified as 73 year old Mon Nerajatee, was illegally disassembling and trading protected water monitors and turtles.

The authorities raided Mon’s house in the U-Thong district of Supha Buri yesterday and found five of his employees disassembling carcasses of water monitors in the house. Mon and the carcass buyer, 67 year old Prasit Lekphet, were also present.

During the raid, 32 living water monitors, 59 monitor lizard carcasses, and 28 turtle carcasses were seized, along with disassembling equipment such as knives, axes, and hammers.

The five employees were not charged, but Mon and Prasit faced four charges for violating Sections 17, 29, 89, and 92. They were accused of possessing and trading protected animals without permission, which could result in imprisonment of up to 10 years, a fine of up to 1 million baht, or both.

Water monitors, also known as Asian water monitors, are on the wildlife protection list under the Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act. The turtles that were seized were snail-eating turtles, black marsh turtles, and Siamese box terrapins, which are also protected wildlife.

Despite monitor lizards being a protected species, some consider them a delicacy. In June last year, a famous Thai singer came under fire for filming her husband cooking a spicy Thai dish with monitor lizard meat.

Crime NewsEastern Thailand News

Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.

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