Nightmare ‘Supermarket’ Openly Selling Bear Cub Meat, Tiger Parts
A resort area known as "Sin City" has become Asia's newest "lawless playground" for trade in parts of endangered animals including tigers, elephants and rhinos.
A new report reveals that an area called the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone (GT-SEZ), which sits between Laos, Myanmar and Thailand in Laos' Bokeo province, is offering visitors supermarket-style access to endangered and threatened species smuggled from Africa and other parts of Asia. The complex, which contains a hotel, shops, massage parlors and a shooting range, offers rare animal meat and cruel specialties like tiger bone wine in its restaurants. Vendors openly sell animals and their parts and products, like rhino horn and leopard skin, from shops. Some live animals, like tigers, pangolins and bear cubs, are kept in cages for sale to be eaten or smuggled out.
According to the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), which released the report on Thursday, the complex is owned by a Chinese company called Kings Romans Group, which owns an 80 percent stake in its operation. The government of Laos owns the other 20 percent, and has made the area a duty-free haven for illicit activities.
The organization demanded that Laos, a country known for its lax wildlife trafficking laws, investigate the area - which seems unlikely, considering the facility is reportedly backed by the government. It also noted that the zone "appears more like an extension of China," employing Chinese workers and even running on Chinese time.
Meanwhile, the animals remain for sale. Here are all the animals that Laos' "Sin City" is driving the demand for, and helping push to extinction:
Restaurants were documented serving "sauté tiger meat." There are several dozen live tigers being held captive, and a keeper revealed plans to have 1,000 within 3 years in order to produce mass amounts of tiger bone wine for consumption at the complex and export to China.
Investigators saw one leopard skin for sale in the marketplace. Leopards are considered near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
Numerous elephant ivory carvings, bangles, beads and pendants, as well as several polished elephant ivory tusks and even ivory powder were seen up for sale.
Shavings of horn, marketed as rhino horn, were seen at the market. The product is valued for its use in traditional medicine.
Pangolins, often referred to as one of the most trafficked animals in the world, are a major commodity for wildlife traffickers and some species are considered critically endangered by the IUCN. Investigators saw pangolin scales for sale as well as a live pangolin in a cage.
Helmeted hornbill beads, bangles and carvings were all spotted at the marketplace.
Bear paws are offered for use in traditional medicine, while an investigator saw a live bear cub in a cage.
See this page for ways to help stop wildlife trafficking.