China: Leizhou, where they butcher tigers

Something I recall having seen on Xinhua (新华网) last year (2014) was a report of tigers being butchered on the street in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, in a town called Leizhou (雷州市). The pictures you can find if you search 雷州市宰杀老虎 (Leizhou City slaughter tigers) are particularly shocking, with the corpses of tigers being drained, before being stripped of their hide and meat. Tiger bones, organs and genitals are also used in Chinese medicine, so every part of the animal has a monetary value on the black market – and it is the black market, as tiger parts are illegal in China, which is a signatory of CITES. But as with many things in the country, it’s only illegal if it’s enforced, and to see any animal – let alone a tiger – being butchered in the street so openly is extremely disturbing.

One of the reasons I study Chinese is to attempt to understand China from the viewpoint of the Chinese themselves, rather than the Western media. The following, then, is my translation of parts of the Xinhua article that I linked above:

2014年3月,广东湛江市公安局在雷州破获一宗非法猎捕、宰杀珍贵、濒危野生动物案件,缴获刚被宰杀的老虎1只、虎制品若干。老虎从哪里来?老虎如何被杀?老虎为何被杀?为什么在雷州?近日,南方日报记者深入雷州调查采访,试图找出上述问题的答案。

March 2014: The public security bureau of Zhanliang city, in Guangdong province, uncovered a case of the illegal hunting and slaughter of an endangered animal. They have just seized a slaughtered tiger, and numerous tiger products. Where did the tiger come from? How was the tiger killed? Why was the tiger killed? Why is it in Leizhou? Over the next few days, a Nanfang Daily reporter went deep into Leizhou to investigate, and to try to find the answers to those question.

近日,记者从湛江市公安局了解到,3月14日,湛江市公安机关破获的非法捕猎、杀害珍贵、濒危野生动物案,经过初步查证是以陈某飞(男,54岁,雷州市附城镇人)为首,陈某东(男,32岁,雷州市附城镇人)等人为骨干成员的犯罪团伙所为。其中,在3月14日晚抓捕行动中坠楼身亡的黄某(男,61岁,遂溪县城月镇人),是该团伙专门负责宰杀老虎的“屠夫”。

The following day, the journalist learned from the Zhanliang City public security bureau that, on March 14th, the case of illegal hunting and killing of an endangered animal, had already passed through the initial investigation stage, and that Chen Mou Fei (male, 54 years old, from a township near Leizhou City) served as the leader, Chen Mou Dong (male, 32 years old, also from a township near Leizhou City) formed the backbone of a criminal gang. Huang Mo (male, 61 years old), who fell and died from the top of a building whilst being apprehended, was the group’s “butcher” specifically responsible for slaughtering tigers.

3月20日晚,雷州市一间酒楼包厢内,当地一名喝得微醺的老板从裤兜里掏出手机,得意地向众人展示里面的照片——当地人宰杀老虎的现场画面。

照片上,一只已被开膛破肚的老虎摆在圆桌上,手持尖刀的屠夫正小心翼翼地剥着虎皮,两三个人在旁围观(见图)。在座吃饭的人身份各异,有学校等事业单位人员,有私企老板,还有政府机构人士。但他们在看到照片后并未显示出惊奇或厌恶,因为在雷州,宰杀老虎已是一件半公开的事情。

Evening of March 20th: In a booth in a restaurant in Leizhou City, a drunk local boss digs his cell phone out of his pocket, and proudly shows a photo on it to the gathered audience: it is a scene of locals butchering a tiger.

From http://www.zy127.com/shehuishequ/201406/32790.html
From http://www.zy127.com/shehuishequ/201406/32790.html

In the photo, an already disembowelled and cut up tiger is placed on a round table, and a dagger-wielding butcher is carefully removing the tiger’s skin; a few people are standing around, watching. Those in the audience in the restaurant are people from all walks of life: there is someone from a non-profit institution, there is the boss of a private enterprise, and there is someone from a government agency. But after looking at the photograph, none of them express amazement or disgust because, in Leizhou, butchering tigers is done more or less in the open.

陈先生是雷州某事业单位的领导。他告诉记者,每次宰杀老虎都是政商圈子里某些人的聚会——会有信得过的朋友打电话通知宰杀老虎的时间、地点,让大家开开眼界。这种屠杀老虎的视觉盛宴,是可以炫耀的资本。

Mr Chen is the leader of a work group in Leizhou, and he told the reporter that every time they butcher a tiger, it is for a gathering of people from the political and industrial circles. A friend of a member of the circle calls them to inform them of the time the tiger is going to be butchered, the place, in order to impress everyone. This “visual feast” of a tiger slaughter is something to brag about.

综合多名知情人士的说法,大多数偷运到雷州的老虎都是活的,“路上可能打了麻醉药,但杀之前要让买家验货,老虎要求是活的”。

According to those in the know, the majority of tigers smuggled into Leizhou are alive. “The tigers might be anaesthetised in the road, but before they are killed the buyers want to inspect the goods, and their requirements are that the tiger is alive.”

一段两年前雷州团伙非法宰杀老虎的现场视频显示,该团伙将老虎囚禁在一个特制的铁笼内,在木棒顶端绑上连着电线的铁块,戳进老虎嘴巴里。之后,在柴油发电机轰鸣的噪音中,听不见老虎的啸鸣,只看到在电击10多秒后,老虎如病猫一般趴下,动弹不得,大口喘气。

Two years ago, a video of the Leizhou gang of tiger butchers showed that the kept tigers in a specially made metal cage; they tied an electric cable to the top of a wooden stick, which they jabbed into the mouth of the tiger. Afterwards, you couldn’t hear the sound of the tiger above the roar of the diesel generator, but could only see that, after being electrocuted for 10 seconds, the tiger collapsed like a sick cat, unable to move, and it let out an exhalation.

电击老虎致死的下一步骤是屠宰,这是个值钱的手工活,通常由当地富有杀猪或杀牛经验的屠夫执行。湛江市公安局通报的杀了10多只老虎、逃跑中坠楼身亡的61岁的黄某,正是雷州市沈塘食品站退休职工,杀了几十年猪。坊间传言,屠夫宰一次老虎可获得1000多元的报酬,风声紧时这个价格会上调。对此,黄某的家属未给予正面回应。

After electrocuting the tiger, the next step is butchering, which is a valuable skill. Usually, a local with experience of butchering tigers or cows will carry it out. The Zanjiang City Public Safety Bureau’s bulletin stated that Huang Mou, the 61 year old suspect who fell from the top of a building whilst being apprehended, and is a retired member of staff from Chen Tang Zhen food stand in Leizhou, has been killing tigers for a number of years. It is whispered amongst food stall workers that butchering a single tiger will bring in more than 1000 RMB, and when things are tight this price will increase. Huang Mou’s family did not respond to this reporter’s questions.

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