A wealthy Chinese real estate developer, identified by his surname Xu, has been sentenced to 13 years in prison by a court in China's southern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region for purchasing and eating tigers - an encouraging sign that the nation's elite aren't exempt from laws designed to protect this endangered species.
As state-run news outlet Xinhua reports, Xu and 14 paid accomplices were convicted earlier this year after admitting to smuggling and killing three endangered big cats between March and May 2013. Cell phone video obtained by police showed one tiger being electrocuted, which was reportedly then butchered and served to Xu's friends as a meal.
Tiger meat and bones were later found in Xu's home, leading to charges of "illegally transporting precious and endangered wild animal products." The origin of the tigers is still unknown, but as the New York Times reported in June, they were imported from outside the country.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, tiger parts, including blood, bones and penises, are believed to have therapeutic properties. Fearing that tigers would be driven to extinction due to rampant poaching, the government of China banned the trade in 1993, though the problem has persisted on the black market mostly driven by members of the nation's elite.