Man jailed for eating rare tiger

BEIJING Tue Dec 22, 2009 12:46pm EST

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BEIJING (Reuters) - A man who killed and ate what may have been the last wild Indochinese tiger in China was sentenced to 12 years in jail, local media reported on Tuesday.

Kang Wannian, a villager from Mengla, Yunnan Province, met the tiger in February while gathering freshwater clams in a nature reserve near China's border with Laos. He claimed to have killed it in self-defense.

The only known wild Indochinese tiger in China, photographed in 2007 at the same reserve, has not been seen since Kang's meal, the Yunnan-based newspaper Life News reported earlier this month.

The paper quoted the provincial Forestry Bureau as saying there was no evidence the tiger was the last one in China.

A local court sentenced Kang to 10 years for killing a rare animal plus two years for illegal possession of firearms, the local web portal Yunnan.cn reported. Prosecutors said Kang did not need a gun to gather clams.

Four villagers who helped Kang dismember the tiger and ate its meat were also sentenced from three to four years for "covering up and concealing criminal gains," the report said.

Kang was also fined 480,000 yuan ($70,000).

The Indochinese tiger is on the brink of extinction, with fewer than 1,000 left in the forests of Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar.

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