According to Chinese lore, tigers provide good fortune, and unlike other “lucky” creatures, such as dragons and three-legged frogs, they exist in real life.
If some Chinese big shots have their way, though, perhaps not for long. Agence France-Presse reports 10 tigers have been slaughtered in recent months in Guangdong to entertain prominent businessmen and local officials. Apparently, having tigers tortured and killed for one’s amusement is a way of demonstrating high social status among some in China.
Police arrested 15 people last Friday in connection with the big-cat smuggling and killing rings and confiscated a freshly killed tiger and several tiger products. A 61-year-old butcher reportedly jumped off a building in an escape attempt.
While China officially banned the trade and selling of tiger products in 1993, an investigation by the Environmental Investigation Agency last year found loopholes in the system allowing 200 licensed “farms” to keep up to 6,000 tigers. Meanwhile, just 3,200 remain in the wild.
“Tigers are subjected to slaughter as long as the Chinese have faith in the medical value of tiger products, such as their bones or male genitalia,” an expert from the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Zoology told the Global Times. “Many will raise them for profit and do underground business.” A single tiger can fetch as much as $50,000 on the black market: The bones can be sold for an average of $2,250 per kilo; the meat goes for $160 per kilo.
In Guangdong, the businessmen and officials for whose entertainment the slaughter was committed have not been publicly identified. Public shaming seems like a good place to start shifting public opinion of the barbaric practice.