Published: Saturday 15 December 2001

Stop serving rare animals or face closure. This is the warning that has been sounded by the authorities to restaurants in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital. Many restaurants have the meat of bears, scaly ant eaters, porcupines, turtles and even tiger parts as delicacies on their menus. Patrons believe they increase sexual potency and cure a host of diseases.

Phnom Penh Deputy governor Seng Tong has ordered 100 restauranteurs to enter into an agreement with the city administration and ensure that no meat of rare animals is served to the customers. "Whoever is stubborn will face the court and have their restaurants shut down," he said.

More than 1,300 endangered animals have been rescued from the kitchens in Phnom Penh by wildlife protection officials this year through raids. Reacting to the governor's order, Phat Leng, municipal wildlife office chief, said,"Cambodians would have to replace their passion for rare animals with sport to stay healthy."

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