Sigh, sometimes it’s hard to defend Chinese tourists, especially when they seem to be setting out to prove the xenophobes right. A group of snorkelers posted photos online of them eating giant clams and other rare creatures on the Paracel Islands.
Aside from the more common activities such as fishing, diving and sea-turtle watching, the post bragged about harvesting and feasting on endangered creatures such as giant clam – also known as Tridacna gigas – and nautilidae. Giant clam is protected by the the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
The snorkelers and would be anti-conservationists accompanied the photos with some charming commentary. “Paracel Islands—half water, half fish,” said one caption. “Catch ‘em, collect ‘em, and eat ‘em—ha ha ha ha.”
Under an image of CITES-protected giant clams, the poster commented: “They’re best raw, and taste good with mustard and soy sauce.”
Disgust and outrage at the tourists behaviour was swift. “Don’t touch or damage any creatures living in their original environment – isn’t that basic common sense?” wrote one microblogger.
“Playing roughly with animals, sauteing them, frying them, roasting them,” commented another. “To flaunt your ignorance so unwittingly…I lack the energy for anger, and can only muster worry and heartache.”
Others pointed out that the blame ultimately lay with the authorities and tour-organisers (echoing our point about asshole zoo visitors): “I think the core problem lies with the ‘relevant bureaus’ of the government. It’s those authorities that permit and encourage these ecologically destructive tourism programs—can’t they promote ecotourist concepts and habits even just a little bit?”
A spokesperson of the Sansha municipal government, which oversees the disputed Paracel Islands, said the government prioritised environmental protection.