Chinese Man Sentenced After Organizing Trips To Kill and Eat Endangered Tigers

Tigress_at_Jim_Corbett_National_ParkThe appetite of Chinese consumers for endangered and threatened species is considered one of the greatest threats facing environmentalists and animal activists. Even Chinese diplomats have been accused of massive violations of laws protecting these species. As Chinese consumers acquire more disposable income, the demand for such products is increasing. The depth of this problem is illustrated in the recent prosecution of a wealthy real estate developer, identified only by his surname Xu, who (according to police) has “a special hobby of grilling tiger bones, boning tiger paws, storing tiger penis, eating tiger meat and drinking tiger blood alcohol.” He was convicted of killing and eating three rare tigers in the Chinese version of the Gourmet Club from The Freshman.

Xu organized three separate trips last year for a total of 15 people, to Leizhou in the southern province of Guangdong, but he is the only one reported to have been prosecuted. The 15 traveled to the province where they bought tigers for a “huge amount of money” that were killed and dismembered as they watched. One of the individuals filmed the entire gruesome slaughter on his phone so that he could enjoy watching it later.

Police found meat from the slaughter in Xu’s home, including a penis, from the tigers. They also found 16 geckos and a cobra. It was a relatively rare prosecution, which is some good news for conservationists. Xu was sentenced to 13 years in prison and a fine of 1.55 million yuan (S$329,500) while the others were jailed for terms between five and six and a half years.

We have previously discussed this problem in China. About 20 years ago, I was on a delegation to Taiwan and one of my areas of discussion was environmental protection. On the flight over to Taipei, our government sanctioned the Taiwan government for the sale of endangered species body parts in medicines and products. When I arrived, that is all the President and ministers wanted to discuss. They were quite angry and insisted that you could not buy such things as tiger bone on the island.

After days of denials, I decided to investigate the matter myself. I left the meeting early and got into a cab. The Justice minister had just denied that such products were openly sold in Taiwan so I asked the cab driver where I could buy tiger bone. He immediately said “Snake alley.” He offered to drive me that night and I accepted. After driving through the city that night, he walked me down a narrow alley with underaged girl prostitutes on either side behind thin curtains. It was horrible with some girls who looked as young as ten. We then emerged in Snake alley — so named because people often came to drink snake blood as an aphrodisiac. I watched as one large snake was killed and drained into a pint cup and given to a young man. The snake’s beating heart was placed on the table in front of him. He paid a wad of money and drank the blood and was served a snake soup. In addition to open sex acts on display, there was a wide array of endangered species body parts for sale from dozens of open tables. I bought a few and took them to the meeting the next day. I explained that it took me literally minutes to find a place to buy these. The minister looked shocked and then had an interesting response. Instead of again denying the availability of such products, he said that the Chinese culture is ancient and that he can personally attest that these ancient remedies work.

The preference for exotic animals in the Chinese market has deep cultural roots. I have been to China and spoken with environmentalists who have bravely fought not just the government but this cultural insensitivity of such issues.

What is troubling is that this Xu felt so little threat of prosecution that he organized multiple trips to capture, kill, and chop up tigers as his fellow travelers filmed the scene. It will require far greater levels of prosecution for China to deter this type of criminal conduct. However, Wu is a worthy start.

16 thoughts on “Chinese Man Sentenced After Organizing Trips To Kill and Eat Endangered Tigers”

  1. Isaac, We just got back from Mexico. They are the antithesis of the French. If you attempt Spanish they are honored, and gently coax you along.

  2. Paul C., thank you. It doesn’t sound very progressive to compare the human or animal and pick the animal. Why aren’t these people being charged at a world venue? Or won’t the Chinese let us?

  3. I am much more interested in the limitless possibilities for medicine in plants than animals. Every time another square mile of virgin rainforest is clearcut, I wonder what miracle cure we just lost.

    A virgin rainforest is very rare nowadays. In a rainforest that’s never been cut, you can walk between the trees without a machete. The canopy shades the understory too much for there to be as much brush.

    I have only walked in rain forests that have been cut at one time, where you need to either stay on the path, or clear a path. No matter how long ago it was cut, it does not seem to grow back just the same.

    Of course, I think there is much we can learn about fighting cancer from sharks, who never get the disease.

    1. Karen – every time a baby is aborted I wonder which cure was stopped by that abortion? Which great book was not written? What great art was not created? For every adoption referral, Planned Parenthood performed 174 abortions.

  4. This story just breaks my heart, especially the anecdote about the little girls being abused as prostitutes. Poor little things.

    Combating cultural mores is a very serious obstacle for environmentalists. As long as exotic or endangered animal parts are considered aphrodisiacs, medicinal, increasing virility, or the fountain of youth, there will always be a black market for them. The only way to eliminate the market is to educate the people. There is no medicinal value in ground black rhino horn, and drinking raw snake blood will give you salmonella.

    I have great resect for a Chinese medicine, but the sale of black market endangered species parts is pure quackery. I don’t understand how their ancient medicinal culture can encompass such a wide range from inherently useful to pure scam. If someone found a single surviving Passenger Pigeon tomorrow, it would probably be in a soup and various raw powders by next week.

    I recall not too long ago a massive bust of an endangered species poacher serving the Asian black market. Stunningly awful.

  5. Never buy Ivory or other such items removed by humans from creatures who face extinction. Boycott stores who sell such items.

  6. Nick

    For many years I lived near Monte Carlo. Every ‘season’ France is over run by 25 million tourists. It starts in April when the richest Europeans beat the rush. Then layer by layer tourists come in waves of descending prosperity. August typically see the French there as they used to take off the whole month. Now they split their 30 days paid holiday between skiing and sunning. In September the refrain from a famous song is, ‘Now my country can breath.’

    Americans were always a part of each level of prosperity and were in general less elitist and snobby. There were those but the main complaint I found about Americans was that they simply did not realize they were not in Paduka or Scott’s Bluff. There was no malice. For malice, no one tops the Northern Italian businessman driving a Jaguar, not an Italian car but a Jag or a Bentley. Then come the Swiss Germans, followed by the rich French. These are the elitists. Americans are mostly among those that are just ignorant of the fact that they are in a foreign country where everybody might not speak english. By the way when an American makes the smallest attempt to speak French, the French take them home for lunch. The worst of the ignorant tourists and also the richest are the Germans. On the coast roads of Eastern Italy the signs are in Italian and German. They descend in mobs on motorcycles and take over entire floors of hotels. Spring break in Daytona is nothing.

    This was some time ago in the 70’s and 80’s and things might be different now. The British on the Riviera are the worst in some ways. They feel that because they started coming down to vacation there a couple hundred years ago, when the French went to Deauville and other places, that it belongs to them. They cannot understand what all these French people are doing in their playground. If that sounds funny, it is not. The Brits use the French as a stool to gain some altitude.

  7. Isaac, I was just throwing out our elitist judgmental, Ugly American persona. Certainly you admit it does exist. It maybe doesn’t apply here? And, you can look long and hard to find someone more judgmental than progressives. They love to look down their noses. Of course that’s because they’re better than everyone else.

  8. A large part of the effectiveness of these ‘ancient’ remedies comes from believing that they work. This is human nature and not peculiar to the Chinese or the Hmong. Many Americans live their lives in similar mindless ways interpreting the ancient documents of this country’s origin one way or another, to suit them selves.

    The bottom line is that there is a world community and endangered species are a result of the expansion of this community. A few hundred years ago the playing field would have been more level. The idiots, and they are idiots-idiots exist in all countries-would have put their lives at risk, hopefully, in venturing into areas with greater populations of Tigers.

    Perhaps China could equal the ancient tradition of eating something for its ‘power’ regardless of whether or not it is the last one on the planet, by sending these clowns into the forest armed only with their teeth and finger nails to hunt the Tigers. In a country that executes more than any other and then bills the condemned’s family for the bullet, this would work.

    Xu would die a noble death, however, the Tiger might be eating something that would not give him power but stupidity. It would make for great TV. I’m sure Xu’s pals would be in the front row.

    Regarding cultural elitism and imposing our values, China is a part of the world community that is against slaughtering the last of a species for personal jollies. The problem isn’t us imposing our values on China but China suffering the same problems that we do. Xu and his ilk are not protected by any deeply believed traditions and rituals. These perps are protected because they pay off whomever and are integral to large degrees in the economic fabric of China. This can be found right here in our culturally elite USA with its values. For every Bernie Madoff a thousand get away with it.

  9. We’re starting the new year w/ some great Turley stories. That trip in snake alley sounds like an Anthony Bourdain adventure. He ate one of those snake beating hearts in one of his early shows.

    There are many examples of Asian culture clashing w/ ours. The Hmong have a tradition of men literally kidnapping the woman they wish to marry, usually ~15 years old, and taking them away. Wisconsin sponsored many Hmong refugees back in the 80’s. Lacrosse, Wi. was one of the first communities. Lacrosse sits on the Mississippi River, bordering Minnesota. This put the Hmong man in potential violation of the Mann Act. That law from the early 1900’s was passed to stop the horrible sex slave practices going on in this country. But, it was vague and people were prosecuted for simply taking a woman across state lines and having sex. Black men were prosecuted for having the temerity to have a white girlfriend and taking her across state lines. The Mann Act was amended a couple times in the 70’s and 80’s to make the language specific to prostitution. Otherwise, this Hmong tradition, foreign to us, could be a violation of the Mann Act.

    The Hmong are good people. I have gotten to know Hmong farmers and buy produce from them. They helped the US during the Viet Nam war are were being massacred. The US, and US churches, helped get these very rural people sanctuary in the US. The problem w/ their assimilation was in great part because they were placed in cities. The movie, Gran Torino helped many people who knew nothing of the Hmong, learn about them and their problems.

    JT has missionary zeal when it comes to environmentalism. This great story exemplifies that zeal. But, we often risk being judgmental and imposing our values on other cultures. The term Ugly American comes to mind in some of these instances.

  10. My understanding is that synthetic drugs do not always work and tiger bone, etc. have always worked for the Chinese. I am surprised you didn’t expect them to conduct the meeting in English only, but that worked for you, Jonathan. There is a certain cultural elitism involved here.

  11. Hopefully, the younger generation will have no interest in eating lions and tigers and bears. At least the problem will go away with attrition by default. But, in the mean time how many extinctions will be served up will remain a worrying question.

    Maybe the authorities can sneak in chow chows painted like pandas or the dog shaved to resemble a lion to trick these guys into believing endangered species are being served. The deception is worth a try, maybe it might save a species.

  12. I agree that prosecuting Wu is a worthy start. Their next step should be a police raid on “Snake alley ” and arresting those who are killing endangered species and also arresting those who are promoting ten year olds as prostitutes.

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