Chinese officials are investigating the death of a protected whale shark after a video of two men slowly cutting it open was posted online.
The video, which was supposedly shot on a wharf in the city of Yangjiang, in Guangdong province, shows the animal squirming and screaming as the two men carved large slices off it with a long blade.
According to CCTV, the Chinese state broadcaster, the incident was now being investigated by the local fisheries department but it is unclear whether any charges will be brought.
The whale shark is a protected species according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna meaning its trade is strictly controlled.
Despite its name, it is the world’s largest fish and can grow up to around 10 metres long and can weigh as much as 9 tonnes, according to the New York Times.
According to local media, one official said: “The whale shark is a second-grade protected animal in China. Killing protected animals in China is a crime.”
The video of the butchering had provoked widespread revulsion across China with China Daily quoting one commentator on an online blog who said: “Imagine, after it was caught they didn’t knock it out, but cut up, bit by bit they cut it up — that’s so cruel.”
Despite the controls, hundreds of whale sharks are being to be killed every year and a conservation organisation, WildLifeRisk said that a single specimen could sell for around $31,000 (£19,807).Reuse content