China / Society

Major profits motivating tiger poachers: expert

By Zheng Caixiong in Guangzhou (China Daily) Updated: 2014-03-31 08:47

Wildlife preservationists blame the lure of large profits for the ongoing illegal wildlife hunts in Leizhou, Guangdong province.

Last week, police in Zhanjiang seized the carcass of a recently killed tiger and other tiger products when they busted a major criminal gang that they said illegally hunted, slaughtered and sold endangered wildlife in Leizhou.

The gang was found to have slaughtered 10 tigers in the past several years, the newspaper said.

A butcher surnamed Huang died after falling from a building while fleeing a related police raid on March 18, Guangzhou's Nanfang Daily reported.

Huang, 61, was a retiree from a local butcher shop and had slaughtered pigs for decades.

The gang was allegedly headed by a local businessman surnamed Chen who runs two karaoke halls in Leizhou and an aquatic product company in the port city of Zhanjiang, police reports said.

But police did not comment on the case, which is still under investigation.

Huang Jianming, an executive supervisor with the Guangzhou office of the Wildlife Conservation Society China, said the large amount of money made by hunting and slaughtering wildlife was behind the recent slaughtered-tiger case in Leizhou.

"Local authorities actually have paid greater attention to the crime than they have in previous years, but the lawbreakers still risk slaughtering wildlife for the big profits," Huang said.

Local residents said tiger bones are worth 3,500 yuan ($564) a kilogram, and tiger meat and tiger-bone liquor sell for 1,000 yuan a kilogram. By comparison, a kilogram of pork usually changes hands for 40 yuan a kilogram at local agricultural bazaars.

The gang leaders seek adult tigers whose weight ranges from 150 to 200 kg at a cost of 200,000 yuan to 300,000 yuan per animal. The leaders then sell the tigers at a profit of more than 100,000 yuan each.

A butcher can reportedly earn 1,000 yuan to slaughter a tiger.

Most tigers secretly transported to Leizhou are alive but anesthetized.

Huang said the tigers that were slaughtered came from nearby tiger farms in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region or other nearby regions or were smuggled in from Southeast Asian countries.

"There are no South China tigers in the wild," Huang said. "And the number of Siberian tigers in the wild stands at about 20."

Huang urged governments to continue to spare no effort fighting the poaching and slaughtering of wildlife.

Local residents should be educated to raise their awareness about protecting wildlife and to avoid eating it, he added.

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