China can’t catch a break in the news lately:
“Health officials in the United States say they are checking all shipments of toothpaste imported from China for contamination with toxic chemicals. Panama and the Dominican Republic have reported finding diethylene glycol, a chemical used in engine coolants, in toothpaste from China…
Earlier this year, contaminated pet food ingredients killed a number of cats and dogs in North America. The toxic chemical, melamine, was found in wheat gluten exports from China for use in pet food, prompting a recall of at least 100 pet food brands. Cough syrup containing diethylene glycol originating from China killed more than 50 people in Panama last year. The New York Times said a Chinese chemical maker had sold the industrial-grade chemical as glycerine, which is often used as a moistener in products from toothpaste to soap and cosmetics.”
“Endangered, hunted, smuggled and now abandoned, 5,000 of the world’s rarest animals have been found drifting in a deserted boat near the coast of China. The pangolins, Asian giant turtles and lizards were crushed inside crates on a rickety wooden vessel that had lost engine power off Qingzhou island in the southern province of Guangdong. Most were alive, though the cargo also contained 21 bear paws wrapped in newspaper.
According to conservation groups, the haul was discovered on one of the world’s most lucrative and destructive smuggling routes: from the threatened jungles of south-east Asia to the restaurant tables of southern China. The animals were found when local fishermen noticed a strange smell emanating from the vessel, which did not have any registration plates, on Tuesday, the Guangzhou Daily reported. When coastguard officials boarded the 25-metre craft, it was reportedly deserted and stripped of identification papers. They found more than 200 crates full of animals, many so dehydrated in the tropical sun that they were close to death.
According to the local media, the cargo included 31 pangolins, 44 leatherback turtles, 2,720 monitor lizards, 1,130 Brazilian turtles as well as the bear paws. Photographs showed other animals, including an Asian giant turtle. All of these south-east Asian species are critically endangered, banned from international trade and yet openly sold in restaurants and markets in China’s southern province of Guangdong, which is famous for its exotic cuisine…. According to wildlife groups, China is the main market for illegally traded exotic species, which are eaten or used in traditional medicine. Pangolins are in great demand because their meat is consider a delicacy and their scales are thought to help mothers breastfeed their babies.
A Guangdong chef interviewed last year in the Beijing Science and Technology Daily described how to cook a pangolin. “We keep them alive in cages until the customer makes an order. Then we hammer them unconscious, cut their throats and drain the blood. It is a slow death. We then boil them to remove the scales. We cut the meat into small pieces and use it to make a number of dishes, including braised meat and soup. Usually the customers take the blood home with them afterwards.”
For pictures of pangolins, click here.