Police in Beihai have arrested two men for the sad slaughter of a whale shark last week that ignited considerable outrage online.
The pair, surnamed Liao and Huang, will be charged with hunting an endangered animal. According to Sina, after killing the whale shark and hanging it up at an offshore oilfield in the South China Sea, they then proceeded to slaughter the poor creature and sell off its meat for around 5 yuan per kilogram.
The two men defended themselves by telling police that the animal was already “dead and decaying” anyway when they pulled it up. However, this claim appears questionable, considering the fact that only a few days before images went viral on Chinese social media of the slaughtered whale shark, pictures were published showing a healthy whale shark swimming happily in the waters around the oil rig.
After the twin set of pictures went viral, Chinese netizens voiced their disgust and called for harsh punishment for whoever had killed this beautiful, harmless and nationally-protected animal. “I would like to string up whoever did this,” one netizen wrote.
We’ll have to wait and see how that goes. Back in 2014, a 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 meal at charity prices instead. That’ll show ’em!
When not caught by careless fishermen, whale sharks can live as long as 70 years to 100 years. Based on biologists’ records, the largest whale shark ever discovered was 12.65 meters long and 21.5 tons.