Video footage uploaded to YouTube of an ecological tour of Padain, a Pingtung village said to be one of the oldest settlements of the Paiwan people, captured a guide skinning and cooking a beauty snake — a “third-grade” protected species.
The Padain Township Office said it would look into the event to ascertain whether the guide was a local or hired from elsewhere, adding that it was nearing the completion of its first training course for village tour guides, which placed a special emphasis on conservation.
The course was due to complete yesterday, when qualifying participants would receive their certificates, the office said.
The incident came to light when netizens recognized the snake as being of a conserved species.
National Pingtung University of Science and Technology forestry department assistant professor Chen Mei-hui (陳美惠) panned the killing and called on the township to reflect on the meaning of ecological tours. Such tours should emphasize respect for nature, conservation and sustainable development, Chen said.
The Pingtung County Department of Agriculture said the act violated Article 41 of the Animal Protection Act (動物保護法).
Killing a member of a protected wildlife species is punishable with a prison sentence of six months to five years and a fine of NT$200,000 to NT$1 million (US$6,530 to US$32,652), the department said.
Using videos posted online as evidence is problematic, the office said, but it nonetheless promised to launch an investigation.
Padain was devastated by Typhoon Morakot in 2009 and volunteer efforts to revitalize it are ongoing.