Photos and video of an endangered, giant sea turtle being slaughtered and hacked into pieces to be sold by the seaside in Guangdong province have gone viral on the Chinese internet, much to the horror of netizens.
The leatherback sea turtle weighing 208 kg (458 lbs) was dragged on shore by a group of fishermen in Zhanjiang city in southern Guangdong on December 6th. The second-class protected animal was then promptly slaughtered. Extremely bloody footage of the turtle being cut apart was posted online.
Word quickly spread around town and locals rushed to the scene and gathered around to watch and buy up chunks of the humongous turtle at 140 yuan per kg. In two hours, there was nothing left of the turtle. The seller made off with 20,000 yuan ($2,900) for his efforts, according to local news reports.
Leatherback sea turtles are the largest species of turtles. They live in a wide area all around the world; however, because of mankind their numbers have seriously declined over the last century. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the leatherback turtle as “vulnerable,” while many subpopulations are “critically endangered.”
In China, the turtles have second-class conversation status, meaning that illegally killing and hunting them is a criminal offense. However, that doesn’t seem to have stopped these fishermen.
Just like the same potential penalties haven’t stopped Chinese fishermen from catching and slaughtering whale sharks in the past. With poor enforcement of endangered species laws, often the only way that a fisherman will be held accountable for his illegal actions is if they happen to go viral.
According to SCMP, the Guangdong ocean and fisheries administration said yesterday that it is in the process of investigating the incident.
If this has got you extremely depressed. Then check out this story from earlier in the year about a Fujian villager who turned down 10,000 RMB and returned a beautiful turtle back to the sea.
[Images via Sohu]
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