Officials fired over monkey eating report

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Four forestry officials in Zixi County, Jiangxi Province, have been sacked after media reports said rhesus monkeys, an endangered species, were rampantly hunted and sold to restaurants, with some ending up on the tables of government banquets.

Report on rare monkeys being eaten ends with officials sacked.[Photo/CNTV]

Report on rare monkeys being eaten ends with officials sacked.[Photo/CNTV]

Wu Kaifa, director of the Zixi Forestry Bureau, and three other officials, Zhou Faquan, Fang Huidong and Peng Zhihua, have been removed from their posts.

The report also triggered an investigation by the State Forestry Administration.

Two poachers surrendered to police yesterday. One of them told China Central Television that he hid in the mountains after watching the report. He said he surrendered because of too much mental pressure.

Criminals convicted of killing endangered species face jail terms from five to 10 years.

One restaurant, Laolou Lobster, in downtown Zixi opens only at night and serves a variety of "exotic animals," according to the CCTV report. One kilogram of the monkey's meat sells for 560 yuan (US$90) and a monkey head can fetch 800 yuan, the eatery owner, surnamed Lou, told CCTV. He showed off a frozen rhesus monkey with a curled body and a face that looked as if it was in pain. "It was killed two days ago and weighs more than 5 kilograms," CCTV quoted him. Lou said he buys dozens of rhesus monkeys each year, without revealing the identities of the sellers.

Zhenwei, another restaurant in a suburb of Zixi specializing in wildlife animals, offers rhesus monkeys along with wild geese, hog badgers and bamboo rats.

The owner told CCTV: "A wild goose sells for 400 yuan and the meat can be steamed, braised in brown sauce and eaten in soup." The restaurant receives more than 100 guests each day.

Zhenwei is one of the designated restaurants serving the Fuzhou City government in Jiangxi. Zixi is under the jurisdiction of Fuzhou.

Restaurants have to go through public bidding to be a government-designated service provider, CCTV said.

Meanwhile, big demand has led to rampant poaching at Gaofu Forest Farm in Zixi.

CCTV footage showed three illegal hunters shooting dead seven rhesus monkeys at the farm within three hours. But no farm official showed up to stop it. The seven monkeys are worth about 3,000 yuan at the local market.

One monkey was shot in the face. A poacher grabbed its head, lifted it up and threw it down to check whether it was still alive. "A dead one is worth less," he told CCTV.

Poachers have placed at least 10,000 iron traps throughout the forest farm to catch live monkeys, the report said.

"Many restaurants call us asking for rhesus monkeys," one of the poachers was quoted.

The 50-year-old farm is one of five state-owned forest farms in Zixi. A farm employee said about 1,000 rhesus monkeys live there.

After the CCTV report, authorities shut down eight stores and restaurants in the area and seized more than 100 iron traps and other tools used for poaching.

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