By Kevin Heath
Chinese police have busted a gang that killed and butchered tigers in front of customers for entertainment and to guarantee to clients that tiger parts were genuine. One of the leaders of the gang – that has killed at least 10 tigers in its 6 years of operation – killed himself when he heard police were on the way to arrest him.
The gang is thought to have set up in 2006 in Leizhou city in South China’s Guangdong province. One of its leaders was 61 year old Huang Feng who set up the execution cages that resulted in the deaths of the tigers. The animals were put into a metal cage, doused with water and then electrocuted before being butchered. When he heard that police were on their way to his home Feng ran to the roof and jumped off killing himself.
The gang of 15 is believed to be led by 54-year-old Chen Moufei, a villager from Fucheng township in Leizhou city in Guangdong province. Local media reported that the gang would use highly endangered Bengal tigers that had been imported into the state. Police did not name where the tigers were imported from or whether they had been captive-bred or caught from the wild.
It was reported that the gang would buy adult tigers at their peak, weighing between 150 and 200 pounds and would pay up to £30,000 per tiger. Once bought the tigers would be sedated and transported to the city ready for the shows. They would then charge about £40,000 for the killing and butchering of the tiger at a show for clients.
The gang would provide their services to rich business people and officials. Nanfang Daily, the local paper reported that it is an open secret in Leizhou that when people in political or business circles gather together, they sometimes hire someone to slaughter a tiger – simply as a form of entertainment and to show off their wealth.
They quoted on local government official who was disappointed that they were ‘out of town’ when invited to one of the shows. “A friend once telephoned me to witness the killing of a tiger, but I was out of town on business and missed the opportunity” said a man surnamed Chen, who is a government official. He added that he regrets that he did not get the chance to see this “live show”.
Police spokesman Long She said: “The tigers were apparently transported alive to keep their body parts fresh, and so the buyers could see they were really being sold a tiger. Most of the buyers were in the area the gang were operating.”
“As far as we can work out they started operating in 2006 and we have confirmed there were more than 10 tiger deaths as a result of their activities. We suspect there may be more. Under Chinese law the tiger is a grade 1 endangered species – and anyone convicted of poaching the animals faces the death penalty.”
Among evidence seized by police is a video showing an electrocution of a tiger in 2012. Video.