At least ten tigers have been slaughtered to entertain wealthy businessmen in a Chinese city, state media has reported.
Police in Zhanjiang seized the body of a tiger and tiger products during a raid earlier this month in the southern Guangdong province. Authorities believe at least nine other tigers had been killed illegally as part of this emerging brutal spectator sport.
Watching tigers be killed and then consumed as an “exotic delicacy” has allegedly become popular among businessmen and high-ranking government officials wishing to demonstrate their social status, the state-run Nanfang Daily reported.
A government official told China Daily that when people from political or business circles in Zhanjiang held gatherings a tiger would sometimes be slaughtered, "simply as a form of entertainment and to show off their wealth".
He told the newspaper: "A friend once telephoned me to witness the killing of a tiger, but I was out of town on business and missed the opportunity," expressing his "regret" at missing "the live show".
The animals are believed to have been smuggled from Vietnam and slaughtered in areas such as Leizhou city to avoid police detection. Police also reportedly found a stash of weapons used to capture the tiger, such as knives and guns, according to the South China Morning Post.
Xie Yan, an expert from the Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, said tigers are often butchered because of beliefs that their body parts have medicinal properties, despite the Chinese government banning the trade and use of tiger parts in 1993.
"Tigers are subjected to slaughter as long as Chinese have faith in the medical value of tiger products, such as their bones or male genitalia, which are actually very controversial in terms of their efficacy,” he told The Global Times.