Tigers are being slaughtered in China for the amusement of the rich and powerful

Killing endangered animals as a status symbol

Topics: Tigers, endangered species, China, traditional chinese medicine, ,

Start taking notes for the Chinese adaptation of The Wolf of Wall Street. According to Chinese state media, the hot trend among rich businessmen is something called “visual feasts,” in which tigers are slaughtered as a show of status. The AFP has more on the disturbing trend, which came to light this month after a police raid in the southern province of Guangdong yielded “a freshly slaughtered tiger and multiple tiger products”:

Local officials and prominent businesspeople gathered to watch the tigers being killed as “eye-openers” to show off their social stature, it said. Video footage of a killing two years ago showed the tiger, kept in an iron cage, having an electrified iron mass prodded into its mouth with a wooden stick and passing out after being electrocuted for more than 10 seconds, the paper said.

An experienced cattle or pig slaughterer is normally hired to butcher the carcass, it said, adding that tiger bones sold for an average of 14,000 yuan (£1,360) a kilo while the meat fetched 1,000 yuan a kilo.

Police said a butcher – who jumped to his death while trying to escape arrest in a raid – had killed more than 10 animals, the report on Wednesday added. “The tigers were probably anaesthetised for transport. But buyers would check them to make sure that they were alive before the killing,” it quoted an unnamed source as saying.

Most buyers of the meat and bones were business owners who would then give them to officials as gifts, the paper said.

The Chinese government banned the trade and use of tiger parts in 1993. But due to cultural beliefs and their importance in traditional medicine, according to the World Wildlife Fund, they remain in demand on the black market.

Lindsay Abrams

Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email labrams@salon.com.

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