It's bad enough that sharks are killed for fins to put in expensive soup. It's bad enough that elephants are slaughtered for their ivory and rhinos butchered for their horns, all to serve some idiotic customer in Asia. But now, wealthy Chinese are brazenly pursuing their expensive habits by, among other things, killing full grown tigers for 'sport'.
Horrific images have made the rounds on the internet of recent killings in Guangdong province of mature tigers, who are slaughtered in a myriad cruel and painful ways.
To make matters worse, some prominent government officials are joining the hunts, if one could call them that, since most of the animals are killed while inside their cages.
Secretly filmed footage has been obtained and then posted on the internet in an attempt to denounce the kilings and break up the ring. So far, there has been an outcry, but it is unclear if the perpetrators will be prosecuted.
In the footage, which is almost two years old, a group of revelers held a private party in an undisclosed location. The group was composed of rich businessman and elite politicians. They are all seen standing in front of a cage where a tiger sits nervously. A little while later, a man with a long electric prong inserts the deadly instrument in the cage and slowly electrocutes the helpless animal.
Then the tiger is cut up, with the partiers eagerly standing over the butcherer as he performs his gruesome task.
Although the local police has made an announcement that 15 of the participants have been arrested, and that they are suspected to have killed at least 10 tigers in the past few years, there is little hope that such actions will stop this new trend.
The tigers apparently are smuggled in from neighboring Vietnam. The man who is seen electrocuting the tiger in the video, was killed during the raid that led to the arrest of the 15 accomplices.
The more worrisome twist to this story, is that the butchered parts of the tigers end up being sold on the black market for eager shoppers who believe that, just like rhino horns, tigers have healing powers or increase their virility. The meat itself is sold for about 240 $ per pound. Its bones, however, are sold for about 4000 $ per pound.
Again, belief in traditional Chinese medicine fuels the cruel slaughter of animals. And there is little hope that the slaughter will cease, considering the dogged pursuit of traditional methods and some Chinese's stubborn refusal to come to terms with their responsibilities regarding animal slaughter and extinction.
A local Chinese blogger, outraged by the video, has accused local politicians and employees for abetting such cruel trade.
Besides the endangered tigers, the Chinese slaughter secretly many other animals who they believe have healing properties. Birds, deer, monkeys and other creatures are seized and butchered.
The involvement of elite businessmen and politicians however, renders even more difficult the enforcement of laws against the slaughter of such animals, if they exist, and gives the practice a semblance of legitimacy. In fact, some of the local politicians or government employees involved in this ring are actually the ones who arrange for the poaching and transportation of the animals.
The local blogger implores authorities to step up efforts and to impose severe sentences to send a message to those entertaining the thought of joining the illegal trade. But there is no way to tell whether the Chinese government will do anything significant and timely to stop the tiger slaughter. The insular quality of Chinese government is such that it allows for incredible measures to be taken for their own endangered species, such as the pandas, but is very myopic in regards to the rest of the world.
Tigers are already on the brink: practices such as these, could wipe them out in a few years. All that our children will be able to see of these magnificent animals, are pictures in books, or videos on television.
Source : France 24/ 3.31.14