BEIJING (AP) — Police in southwestern China arrested 10 people for killing a female wild giant panda, buying and selling its parts, state media said Wednesday.
The giant panda is an endangered species that tops China's list of protected animals. Poaching them is rare, but panda parts are believed to fetch high prices on the black market because of their rarity.
China Central Television said forest police in Yunnan province recovered panda skin, panda meat, bones and an internal organ from the poachers and vendors. If convicted, the suspects could be jailed for years.
A recent census shows the wild panda population grew by 268 to a total of 1,864 in China since the last survey ending in 2003.
World Wild Fund for Nature has said poaching, a traditional threat to wild pandas in China, has declined but economic development has become a major threat. Hydropower plants, roads, and mining projects disrupt the animal's natural habitat.
Still, Chinese officials say poaching rare animals and smuggling their parts remain a problem and that authorities are stepping up efforts to crack down on acts endangering rare animals.