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'Directors' of fake tiger footage ousted from posts
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A county government official and a local TV reporter have been ousted from their posts for fabricating a short film of an endangered South China tiger in the central province of Hunan, local sources said Wednesday.

Tian Gongbing, director of tourism bureau of Pingjiang County, was dismissed from his post. Wu Hua, a reporter, was sacked from Pingjiang TV Station, according to a decision made by the county's supervision bureau and discipline inspection commission.

The case also involved another two people, Sheng Jianhua, investor of Shiniuzhai Tourism Development Company and its manager Ai Honhguang.

The local police, and industrial and commercial authorities have begun investigation into the four people.

In February, Sheng proposed to Tian that he wanted to take a tiger from a park in Changsha to the Shiniuzhai scenic spot and shoot a film for tourism promotion. Tian agreed to his idea and recommended Wu as photographer.

On the night of March 1, Sheng Jianhua had a borrowed tiger transported to the spot. Wu shot a 19-second clip of the tiger in the area on the morning of March 2, with assistance of the company's manager Ai.

On March 19, Wu took a tour in a mountain in that area and then produced the clip to local villagers, proclaiming that he had found a tiger resembling the endangered South China Tiger.

The film, which drew wide public attention, was confirmed to be fake and the tiger in the film turned out to be a Siberian tiger that was part of a circus then touring the province.

This tiger tale came in the wake of a scandal that also riveted the country last October, when villager Zhou Zhenglong in northwest Shaanxi Province produced some 30 pictures of what he claimed was a wild South China tiger, an endangered species that hasn't been seen in the wild since the 1980s.

Zhou said that he risked his life to shoot the picture and was hailed as a hero. He was awarded 20,000 yuan by the provincial forestry authority.

But the authenticity of the photos were soon questioned, and announced to be fake in several unofficial scribes. The Shaanxi authorities were widely accused of trying to boost local tourism and obtain government approval for setting up a tiger reserve by deceit. However, the final result of relevant investigations in the case has not been released.

(Xinhua News Agency March 27, 2008)

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