Chinese Officials Caught Eating Endangered Salamander, Attack Photographers
Reports are flooding in that officials in South China's Guangdong Province were allegedly caught with their mouths full of a critically endangered salamander just last week. Undercover press documenting the dinner were reportedly attacked after being ousted. An investigation is ongoing.
According to a story first reported by the Nandu Daily and the Chinese tabloid Global Times, 14 police officers from the Guangdong Province have been suspended and an investigation is underway after they attacked two journalists and their photographer at a restaurant at Luohu district, Shenzhen.
The journalists were reportedly kicked and slapped, and one man's hands were bloodied after having his cell phone stolen by the officials' security team. A camera was also destroyed, and the photographer reportedly took the worst of the beating.
According to the journalists, an incredibly rare giant salamander was being consumed at the event.
And while the Global Times is infamous for its taste in all things scandalous, it appears there is a great deal of truth behind the story. The Agence France-Presse reported on Tuesday that one official, of 28 diners, is already under investigation.
The Chinese Giant Salamander (Andrias davidianus) is critically endangered, according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, largely due to overexploitation of the animal for decadent meals. In some circles, the flesh of this animal is thought to prevent aging - a rumor not supported by the Chinese Medicine Societies and traditional practitioners.
One man, according to reports, claimed that the salamander had been raised in captivity for the sole purpose of consumption, while another was quoted as saying "in my territory, it is my treat."
Chinese President Xi Jinping has launched a much-publicized austerity drive for the ruling classes, condemning decadent and often illegal meals such as these.
However, that has not seemed to stop the elite in the nation. A wealthy China-man was recently sentenced to 13 years in prison for purchasing and then consuming at least three tigers in the course of a year, while the legal farming of some endangered species may actually be promoting illegal trade.
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