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China prosecutes three for butchering panda

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Three men have been prosecuted for selling meat from a panda that they killed and butchered, a Yunnan court said on Tuesday (Sept 22).

Two brothers Wang Wenlin and Wang Wencai from the southwestern Chinese province allegedly shot and killed a giant panda in the hills outside their village.on Dec 4 last year.

They then sold about 35kg of the animal's meat and paws to another man called Li Kequan, who resold it to six more people, BBC News reported.

The men reportedly earned about 5,000 yuan (about S$1,115) from the sale.

It is believed they also ate some of the panda meat themselves, Shanghaiist reported.

Panda poaching is quite rare in China thanks to the exalted status of the creatures and the public outcry killing one can bring.

The crime came to light during a police raid last December, when police found the panda skin and about 10kg of meat.

Panda Bao Bao at the National Zoo in Washington DC. There are fewer than 2,000 pandas in the wild. PHOTO: AFP

Mr Wan Wei, deputy director of the investigation department of the Yunnan prosecuting office, said the Wang brothers confessed to the deed: 

“The Wang brothers said they ate some of the meat and sold the rest of the meat and four paws to Li Kequan, who then traded with others.”

Police initially suspected the meat was bear but a DNA test confirmed it belonged to an adult female panda.

Panda fur, skull and liver were later found in the two brothers' home.

The Wang brothers said they had been tracking a predator that attacked their sheep last December. It was only after one of them shot at what they described as a “big animal” did they realise it was a panda, Xinhua news agency said.

Pandas have not been spotted in Yunnan for centuries.

Giant pandas are one of the world’s most endangered species.

 About 1,600 live in the wild, mostly in the mountains of Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces, while more than 300 live in captivity.

Sources: Xinhua, BBC News, Shanghaiist, AFP

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