Chinese dolphin thief identified, will be punished, authorities say

Man who took carcass of false killer whale calf from beach should have reported incident due to animal’s protected status

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 May, 2018, 2:49pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 May, 2018, 4:49pm

A man who took the carcass of a dolphin calf from a beach in southern China last week has been identified and will face punishment, authorities said on Tuesday.

Footage of the man, dressed only in swimming trunks, walking along a beach with his mobile phone in one hand and the body of the dead animal slung over his shoulder caused outrage online.

The film was shot at Hailing Island in Guangdong province on May 1, during the Labour Day holiday, and was widely shared on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service.

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On Tuesday, Xinhua cited local fishery authorities as saying they had identified the man and were investigating the case. The report did not name him or say what punishment he might face.

The South China Sea Fisheries Research Institute, meanwhile, confirmed that the animal was a false killer whale – the third-largest member of the dolphin family – which is a class-II protected species in China, Beijing Youth Daily reported.

The dead calf was 120cm long and weighed 15kg, local law enforcement officers told Xinhua.

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Under Chinese law anyone who discovers the body of a wild animal must report it to authorities.

“Dolphins are protected animals [in China],” an unnamed official from the fishery authority was quoted as saying last week by news website Btime.com.

“Whether it was dead or alive, he should have called the authorities for help.”

Chinese internet users were enraged by the images shared online.

One wrote: “These people are like savages. They should be punished and made to pay hundreds of thousands of yuan.”