China businessman jailed for 13 years for buying and eating three tigers

A Chinese businessman who bought and ate three tigers has been sentenced to 13 years in prison, state media reported on Tuesday. -- PHOTO: AFP
A Chinese businessman who bought and ate three tigers has been sentenced to 13 years in prison, state media reported on Tuesday. -- PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (AFP) - A Chinese businessman who bought and ate three tigers has been sentenced to 13 years in prison, state media reported on Tuesday.

The wealthy real estate developer, identified only by his surname Xu, has "a special hobby of grilling tiger bones, boning tiger paws, storing tiger penis, eating tiger meat and drinking tiger blood alcohol", the official Xinhua news agency said in June when he went on trial.

Xu organised three separate trips last year for a total of 15 people, including himself, to Leizhou in the southern province of Guangdong, where they bought tigers for a "huge amount of money" that were killed and dismembered as they watched, the government-run news portal gxnews.com.cn reported on Tuesday.

One of them filmed the entire process of a tiger slaughter with his mobile phone. The footage was later obtained by the police.

The police seized eight pieces of animal meat and bones from a refrigerator in Xu's home, some of which were later identified as tiger parts, including a penis, the report said, adding that 16 geckos and a cobra were also found.

A court in Guangxi earlier this year convicted the 15 of "illegally transporting precious and endangered wild animal products" but the conviction was not reported at the time.

Xu was sentenced to 13 years in prison and a fine of 1.55 million yuan (S$329,500), gxnews.com.cn said, with the others jailed for terms between five and six and a half years, and given smaller fines.

They appealed and a higher court upheld the ruling on Monday, the report said.

Tiger bones have long been an ingredient of traditional Chinese medicine, supposedly for a capacity to strengthen the human body, and while they have been removed from its official ingredient list the belief persists among some.

It is a long-held belief across parts of Asia that penises of animals such as tigers and seals can boost men's sexual performance.

There is no orthodox scientific evidence for such claims.

Decades of trafficking and habitat destruction have slashed the tiger population from 100,000 a century ago to approximately 3,000, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List of threatened species, where the tiger is classed as endangered.