Chinese officials allegedly eat endangered animal at banquet

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Chinese Officials Allegedly Eat Endangered Animal at Banquet


A banquet where Chinese officials reportedly ate a giant salamander appears to be at the heart of a bust-up that left 14 police officers suspended.

According to local paper Southern Metropolis Daily, 28 people were involved in the banquet, and the police officers were suspended because they attacked the paper's undercover journalists after the banquet.

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Chinese police alleged to have eaten endangered giant salamander at banquet
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Chinese officials allegedly eat endangered animal at banquet
The Chinese giant salamander is the world's largest.
Chinese giant salamander
May 05, 2009 Behind the scenes at the ROM.for the upcoming Schad Gallery of Biodiversity. ROM Artist M-J Kelley holding a preserved baby Giant Chinese Salamander that was used to make a model for display. Toronto Star/Michael Stuparyk (Photo by Michael Stuparyk/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
SINGAPORE - MAY 25: Author and television presenter of River Monsters series, Jeremy Wade weighs a chinese giant salamander during the Jeremy Wade's exclusive showcase at River Safari on May 25, 2014 in Singapore (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images)
ZHANGJIAJIE, CHINA: A Chinese giant salamander, the largest in the world, which can grow up to 1.8 meters in length, lies in a glass enclosure during the China International Conservation festival in Zhangjiajie, central China's Hunan province 10 December 2005. Chinese authorities are now taking steps to protect this species of salamander, which are threatened by hunting, as its flesh is a delicacy in Asia, and is also caught for the pet trade, while building of dams in China over the years has also changed the natural river flow in some areas, threatening the natural habitat of the Chinese giant salamanders. AFP PHOTO/GOH CHAI HIN (Photo credit should read GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images)
ZHANGJIAJIE, CHINA: A Chinese giant salamander, the largest in the world, which can grow up to 1.8 meters in length, lies in a glass enclosure during the China International Conservation festival in Zhangjiajie, central China's Hunan province 10 December 2005. Chinese authorities are now taking steps to protect this species of salamander, which are threatened by hunting, as its flesh is a delicacy in Asia, and is also caught for the pet trade, while building of dams in China over the years has also changed the natural river flow in some areas, threatening the natural habitat of the Chinese giant salamanders. AFP PHOTO/GOH CHAI HIN (Photo credit should read GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images)
ZHANGJIAJIE, CHINA: A man shows his son how to release the baby Chinese giant salamanders, which can grow up to 1.8 meters in length, the largest in the world, into a stream during the China International Conservation festival in Zhangjiajie, central China's Hunan province 10 December 2005. Chinese authorities are now taking steps to protect this species of salamander, which are threatened by hunting, as its flesh is a delicacy in Asia, and is also caught for the pet trade, while building of dams in China over the years has also changed the natural river flow in some areas, threatening the natural habitat of the Chinese giant salamanders. AFP PHOTO/GOH CHAI HIN (Photo credit should read GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images)
ZHANGJIAJIE, CHINA: The bowls containing the baby Chinese giant salamanders, which can grow up to 1.8 meters in length, the largest in the world, prior to a ceremony to release them back into a stream during the China International Conservation festival in Zhangjiajie, central China's Hunan province 10 December 2005. Chinese authorities are now taking steps to protect this species of salamander, which are threatened by hunting, as its flesh is a delicacy in Asia, and is also caught for the pet trade, while building of dams in China over the years has also changed the natural river flow in some areas, threatening the natural habitat of the Chinese giant salamanders. AFP PHOTO/GOH CHAI HIN (Photo credit should read GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images)
ZHANGJIAJIE, CHINA: A boy gets a closer look at a baby Chinese giant salamander, which can grow up to 1.8 meters in length, the largest in the world, prior to releasing it into a stream during the China International Conservation festival in Zhangjiajie, central China's Hunan province 10 December 2005. Chinese authorities are now taking steps to protect this species of salamander, which are threatened by hunting, as its flesh is a delicacy in Asia, and is also caught for the pet trade, while building of dams in China over the years has also changed the natural river flow in some areas, threatening the natural habitat of the Chinese giant salamanders. AFP PHOTO/GOH CHAI HIN (Photo credit should read GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images)
ZHANGJIAJIE, CHINA: A volunteer dress up in a cartoon Chinese giant salamander costume, to help promote the conservation of the specie, which can grow up to 1.8 meters in length, the largest in the world, during the China International Conservation festival in Zhangjiajie, central China's Hunan province 10 December 2005. Chinese authorities are now taking steps to protect this species of salamander, which are threatened by hunting, as its flesh is a delicacy in Asia, and is also caught for the pet trade, while building of dams in China over the years has also changed the natural river flow in some areas, threatening the natural habitat of the Chinese giant salamanders. AFP PHOTO/GOH CHAI HIN (Photo credit should read GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images)
ZHANGJIAJIE, CHINA: A baby Chinese giant salamander, which can grow up to 1.8 meters in length, the largest in the world, after being released into a stream during the China International Conservation festival in Zhangjiajie, central China's Hunan province 10 December 2005. Chinese authorities are now taking steps to protect this species of salamander, which are threatened by hunting, as its flesh is a delicacy in Asia, and is also caught for the pet trade, while building of dams in China over the years has also changed the natural river flow in some areas, threatening the natural habitat of the Chinese giant salamanders. AFP PHOTO/GOH CHAI HIN (Photo credit should read GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images)
ZHANGJIAJIE, CHINA: A participant admires a Chinese giant salamander, the largest in the world, which can grow up to 1.8 meters in length, lying in a glass enclosure during the China International Conservation festival in Zhangjiajie, central China's Hunan province 10 December 2005. Chinese authorities are now taking steps to protect this species of salamander, which are threatened by hunting, as its flesh is a delicacy in Asia, and is also caught for the pet trade, while building of dams in China over the years has also changed the natural river flow in some areas, threatening the natural habitat of the Chinese giant salamanders. AFP PHOTO/GOH CHAI HIN (Photo credit should read GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images)
ZHANGJIAJIE, CHINA: Chinese officials gather to release the baby Chinese giant salamanders, which can grow up to 1.8 meters in length, the largest in the world, during the China International Conservation festival in Zhangjiajie, central China's Hunan province 10 December 2005. Chinese authorities are now taking steps to protect this species of salamander, which are threatened by hunting, as its flesh is a delicacy in Asia, and is also caught for the pet trade, while building of dams in China over the years has also changed the natural river flow in some areas, threatening the natural habitat of the Chinese giant salamanders. AFP PHOTO/GOH CHAI HIN (Photo credit should read GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images)
ZHANGJIAJIE, CHINA: A Chinese official watches over the bowls containing the baby Chinese giant salamanders, which can grow up to 1.8 meters in length, the largest in the world, prior to a ceremony to release them back into a stream during the China International Conservation festival in Zhangjiajie, central China's Hunan province 10 December 2005. Chinese authorities are now taking steps to protect this species of salamander, which are threatened by hunting, as its flesh is a delicacy in Asia, and is also caught for the pet trade, while building of dams in China over the years has also changed the natural river flow in some areas, threatening the natural habitat of the Chinese giant salamanders. AFP PHOTO/GOH CHAI HIN (Photo credit should read GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images)
ZHANGJIAJIE, CHINA: A volunteer dress up in a cartoon Chinese giant salamander costume, to help promote the conservation of the specie, which can grow up to 1.8 meters in length, the largest in the world, during the China International Conservation festival in Zhangjiajie, central China's Hunan province 10 December 2005. Chinese authorities are now taking steps to protect this species of salamander, which are threatened by hunting, as its flesh is a delicacy in Asia, and is also caught for the pet trade, while building of dams in China over the years has also changed the natural river flow in some areas, threatening the natural habitat of the Chinese giant salamanders. AFP PHOTO/GOH CHAI HIN (Photo credit should read GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images)
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The Chinese giant salamander they allegedly ate is critically endangered: Although there aren't any solid population estimates, the EDGE of Existence initiative reports populations of the once-common amphibian have fallen catastrophically over the past 30 years.

That's due in part to habitat destruction but also unsustainable hunting. The salamander's meat is considered a delicacy.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has discouraged Chinese officials from spending too much money on banquets, urging frugality and austerity instead.

One of the police officers involved in the banquet said the restaurant's salamanders were artificially bred, which is a common claim for restaurants and markets that sell endangered species.

In the case of the salamander, a study by Chinese researchers found artificial breeding didn't slow the animal's population decline in the wild, and poached specimens are often sold as being from farms.

Demand in China is one of the driving forces behind the poaching of several endangered species, often either consumed as delicacies or used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Conservationists have blamed Chinese demand for rhino horns as one of the leading factors in the 90 percent decline in wild rhino populations over the past 40 years, and Chinese demand for ivory has also driven elephant poaching.

Many of these items are considered luxury products, which have seen a spike in demand alongside the country's increasing wealth.

China has enacted new laws to prevent the trade of these illegally obtained products, but critics say the lack of enforcement has rendered the laws mostly ineffective.

The regional government in Shenzhen, where the banquet was allegedly held, has promised a thorough investigation into the incident.



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