Beijing (AFP) – Police in China have detained a man over the death of a rare Siberian tiger discovered in the back of an SUV, a report said on Thursday.
Pictures showing officers pulling the black-streaked tiger, wrapped in a plastic bag, out of a white vehicle went viral on China’s Internet after they were posted online.
Police in the eastern city of Wenzhou are holding a suspect identified as a former chef in connection with the tiger’s death, the local Youth Times newspaper said.
The tiger was seized by police after they spotted the bag and found its shape suspicious, the report said.
Trade in Siberian tigers, also known as Amur tigers, is outlawed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
Hundreds of the animals, known scientifically as Panthera tigris altaica, once roamed the lush pine and oak forests of northeastern China.
As recently as the 1970s China and Russia each had about 150 Siberian tigers, but now only around 20 are estimated still to survive in the wild in China.
Conservationists cite increased logging as well as poaching of the species for use in traditional Chinese medicine as among reasons for the dramatic fall in their numbers.
The body of the seized tiger is being stored in a local zoo, the report said, adding that experts judged it to be a male between five and six years old but had not yet determined the cause of its death.