An investigation has been opened into whether officials in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of southern China hosted banquets in which they served plates of pangolin meat to their guests.
The government probe comes in response to an old Weibo post by a Hong Kong businessman who claimed to have been treated to a dinner including the endangered animal during a business trip in 2015. The original post itself has since been deleted, but not before it was picked up by numerous Weibo users, becoming one of the top trending topics on the site.
The post includes pictures from the alleged banquet, including one of a pot of cooked meat purported to be pangolin. The businessman adds that one of the officials who organized the banquet had a particular fondness for the taste of pangolin.
With the topic blowing up online, a Guangxi Department of Forestry employee told the Legal Evening News that China’s State Forestry Administration had ordered an investigation to be launched concerning the matter.
That investigation is still ongoing.
Pangolins, for those unfamiliar, are scale-covered mammals sometimes referred to as a scaly anteaters. They’re rare, adorable and hunted in China for their tough armor, which is believed by traditional Chinese medicine practitioners to help cure cancer and asthma, among other ailments. Their meat is also considered to be delicacy. The creatures can fetch up to 5,000 yuan per kilogram.
Frequently, Chinese authorities seize illegal shipments of pangolins and pangolin scales from smugglers. In 2015, Shanghai customs officials at the Pudong International Airport confiscated about 249 kilograms of pangolin scales transported in nine black suitcases.
But that’s nothing compared to the recent record haul of 3 tonnes of pangolin scales seized by Thai authorities earlier this month.
[Images via Sina]
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