Authorities raided a restaurant in Shenzhen that sold rare animals and cooked them for banquets, reflecting the lack of awareness among mainlanders of the need to protect endangered species, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
In Zhejiang province, meanwhile, police seized a stall at a wet market in Danghu village secretly selling wild birds, the newspaper said.
Over 400 sparrows were found in styrofoam boxes, and 11,000 more wild birds were seized at the house of one of the vendors. They included 88 magpies and 13 wild pigeons.
Four people were arrested after implements for catching birds, such as nets and an airsoft rifle, were discovered in their apartments.
It is fairly common in China for people to eat wild animals, or yewei in Putonghua, ignoring the fact that many of these animals are carriers of germs and unknown viruses, according to thepaper.cn.
Some even disclose on social media the wild animals they have eaten.
A woman in Shenzhen, for example, boasted on a Weibo post that she had had a meal of pangolin soup and fried rice with pangolin blood a few years back.
She said the broth had made her nose bleed owing to its medicinal effects.
According to her, the restaurant where she had the pangolin dish had a menu consisting of various exotic types of meat, including that of an owl.
Netizens criticized her for consuming endangered animals, and her Weibo posts have been deleted since.
Some vendors of pangolins and other endangered species use various tricks to command better prices such as adding cement or flour to the increase the weight of the animals or pigments to make them look more exotic, Fawan News reports.
Vendors also inject the animals with sedatives during transport and then give them stimulants to make them look healthy and lively while being displayed for sale.
Others use preservatives to keep dead animals looking fresh.
Just last year, a vendor in Zhejiang was found to have injected two pounds of liquified flour into a pangolin’s stomach to increase its weight and fetch higher prices.
An officer investigating the case said injecting water was not enough to increase the animals’ weight, so they use chemicals and even cement to make them bigger.
The average price for a pangolin is 700 yuan (US$101.83) per catty, but it sells for around 1,000 yuan per catty in restaurants.
The officer warned the public against eating pangolin and other endangered species, saying that it is not only illegal to do so but also dangerous because vendors inject the animals with various chemicals.
Under mainland laws, a person found to have eaten pangolin could be sentenced to five years in jail and slapped with a heavy fine.
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