This is a harrowing, sad and upsetting story about the abuse of tigers in China. A bizarre incident exposed the hidden illegality of the possession of tigers without a licence in China.
A tiger cub falls 11 stories to his death from a building in downtown Pingdu, near Qingdao (China’s ‘sailing city’). This is on the coast of China.
The tiger cub was found in a parking lot below the building in the morning after the fall. We are told that he leapt to his death because he was frightened of fireworks that were going off (Lunar New Year fireworks). This strange incident led to an investigation which exposed the illegal activities of three businessmen, Cui Jingguang, Yang Wenzheng and Zhang Fucai, who are all local legislators. They make the law and they break the law.
As I understand it, Cui Jingguang (the manager of a mountain park in the area) bought a pair of Siberian tigers in 2006.
They were male and female and they had six cubs. It is one of these cubs who died in the fall. He couldn’t afford to look after them so he asked his friends (the other two) to help. Keeping a tiger in China costs around 200 yuan a day. Cui’s friends were millionaire businessmen but none of them were qualified to raise and look after tigers. They would never have acquired a licence.
Yang Wenzheng is also a local government official. He housed the tigers that he had acquired from Cui in steel cages on the roof of his apartment building which explains how the tiger came to fall 11 stories to his death. We have to presume (a) that the cage was open at the time and (b) that a lot of carelessness was involved as well as well as illegality coupled with an immoral attitude towards animals.
Rather than being prosecuted in the criminal courts in China they were simply fined. Each man was fined 3,000 (about $450 USD). This seems like a very light punishment. The dean of Huijia Law Firm in Beijing believes they should have been punished more severely.
The light punishments are highlighted when compared to the punishment handed out to another Chinese man involved with the illegal trade in tigers. Wang was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison and fined 50,000 yuan for illegally trying to buy a dead Siberian tiger.
No doubt, the three businessmen used their connections and influence to achieve a very light punishment for their crime. The Chinese government admit that there is too much corruption amongst officials in local government which destabilises the Chinese economy. We are told that the three have resigned from office as law makers.
The surviving tigers possessed by these three are now in a zoo in China.
Tiger parts are very valuable in China which is why they are traded. The trade is in serious breach of China’s obligations under CITES and a major threat to the survival of the tiger in the wild. Chinese businessmen like to eat tiger body parts as they believe it gives them an advantage in business and in love making (they eat the tiger’s penis for this, which is worth $6,000 or more as tigers become more scarse).
Sources: South China Morning Post, takpart, China Daily and Michael Broad. My thanks to Michele S for finding the story.