Authorities in Guangxi Autonomous Region are looking into a case in which a pangolin was cooked and served at a banquet.
The move comes after a Hong Kong businessman posted some photos from the banquet to his Weibo account, Sing Tao Daily reports.
The man said the function was hosted by a senior local official when his group inspected the investment environment in the region in July 2014.
In one of the photos, a pot of cooked meat is seen on the dining table. The caption says the man standing next to it “immediately fell” for the pangolin meat after tasting it.
On Monday, netizens exposed the man’s identity as the son of a wealthy Hong Kong businessman, surnamed Lee, who is engaged in the clock business.
The official was identified as the head of the Guangxi Investment Promotion Agency, surnamed Huang.
Pangolin meat is prized as a delicacy in certain Asian countries, particularly China and Vietnam.
But the mammal itself is listed as a protected species in China and is considered highly endangered globally.
The UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species voted last year to prohibit any cross-border movement in the animals or their body parts for commercial purposes.
The resolution, which China signed, took effect on Jan. 2, according to Apple Daily.
That means whoever provided the pangolin might have broken the law by smuggling it in since pangolins have been extinct in China.
According to Chinese law, anyone who kills or sells protected wild animals could face up to 10 years in prison. Eating such animals is also unlawful.
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