The Travel Channel has said it will discontinue airing an episode of the culinary reality show "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations" that promotes illegal wildlife meat consumption in Vietnam after an international NGO complained about the issue.
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Vietnam Program has received a letter from the Communication Vice-Director of the International Travel Channel stating that the network has agreed to remove the episode featuring wildlife meat in the Central Highlands town of Da Lat, WCS said in a statement on June 29.
The case began on May 4 when WCS discovered that an episode of the show recorded in Da Lat included a segment in which the show's host, celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, eats mouse-deer meat at a local eatery.
The episode describes the meat of the Javan mouse deer (Tagulus javanicus) as a traditional specialty.
"This episode clearly shows that the restaurant is serving wild meats and two hosts are eating mouse-deer meat. After a discussion with Lam Dong Forest Protection Department, WCS Vietnam via WCS America sent a letter asking the Travel Channel to remove the episode," the organization said.
Tran Xuan Viet, Program Officer of WCS Vietnam, said that it is illegal to exploit the mouse deer for commercial purposes and violators can be fined up to VND500 million (US$26,000), depending on how serious the violation is.
"Travel Channel has decided to discontinue airing the No Reservations episode featuring the deer mouse," James Ashurst of the Travel Channel said in the letter to WCS.
The segment will be "removed or significantly edited from these perspective programs before either episode will be aired again either domestically or internationally," due to "the apparent ambiguity of international law pertaining to at least one of the species in question."
"Regarding the consumption of exotic foods, Travel Channel has consistently demonstrated a commitment to respecting and abiding by international laws and treaties as they pertain to indigenous and protected wildlife," he said.
On June 8, after analyzing the film to locate the eatery in the movie, the Lam Dong Forest Protection Department inspected the Thu-Khoi restaurant near Dankia Lake in Lam Dong Province's Da Lat Town and confiscated two Asiatic brush-tailed porcupines (Atherurus macrourus), weighing 1.2 kilograms in total, 4.8 kilograms of wild boar meat and ten kilograms of other meat that had been partially processed.