One suspect has been arrested in Fujian’s Xiapu county after a dead whale shark was spotted earlier this week being driven around town before being brutally slaughtered.
Residents were shocked on Monday to see the giant fish being transported through the center of the city in the back of a pickup, with its tail dragging against the pavement, leaving a trail of blood.
The drivers of the pickup attempted to sell the shark to a local hotel’s kitchen. However, hotel management turned down the offer, reasoning that the fish was “too smelly.” The following day, footage spread on social media of the whale shark being hacked up by a group of men with saws.
On Wednesday, the local government of Xiapu county released a statement saying that one suspect had been arrested for selling endangered animal parts. It’s not clear if more arrests will follow.
It’s also not clear what sort of punishment the suspect will receive if convicted. Though the whale shark is a second-class nationally-protected animal in China, the country has a notorious reputation of failing to actually protect its protected animals. In the past, fishermen who have caught whale sharks have managed to get off with less than a slap on the wrist.
Back in 2014, another Fujian fisherman caught a whale shark. Claiming to not know what it was, he brought the carcass back into town hoping for a big pay day. Unfortunately for him, the local government noticed and told him that it couldn’t be sold off for profit — so they auctioned off the meat at charity prices instead.
However, last year, two men in the coastal Guangxi city of Beihai were arrested for slaughtering a whale shark after gruesome photos went viral online, prompting netizens to call for justice to be served.
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