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MasterChef Thailand Sparks Outrage for Cooking Endangered Spotted Eagle Ray

Rare spotted eagle rays are believed to have been part of the cooking challenge and viewers took offense that the use of an alleged endangered species on mainstream media is normalized.

An episode of MasterChef Thailand that featured rays as the main ingredient was aired on March 3. The date happens to be World Wildlife Day so the irony wasn’t lost on some Thai viewers, Straits Times reports. Although the consumption of spotted eagle ray is legal in Thailand, many believe its high-profile appearance could harm efforts to conserve the species.

According to the news source, the producers of MasterChef Thailand clarified the matter in a Facebook post, confirming that spotted eagle rays were used, while also stating that they are commonly used in Thai cuisine in deep-fried dishes and other cooking shows have used them in the past.

Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a marine biologist at Kasetsart University’s Faculty of Fisheries, told the news outlet that the exact species of eagle ray used on the show hasn’t been determined yet, but it might have been one of the two spotted eagle species that have a conservation status under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

While they are endangered by unsustainable fishing, habitat loss and population decline, they are not currently under protection from Thailand’s animal conservation law. He also argued that featuring endangered species could promote the consumption of rare animals.

[Photo via The Nation]

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