Elk meat ‘served in restaurants next door to Chinese elk protection park’
Local journalists call for police and national park to investigate after posing as tourists and being offered elk meat and antlers by restaurant owner
Several restaurants near an elk protection zone in eastern China have been accused of serving elk meat dishes on their menu, according to a news report.
The dishes were being sold as a costly delicacy at restaurants in the city of Yancheng, Jiangsu province, near Dafeng Milu Nature Reserve, a national park in which elks are protected, Jiangsu News Broadcasting reported on Tuesday.
The local broadcaster said it had received dozens of reports since May from animal protection volunteers blowing the whistle on the restaurants.
Some of the elk meat was believed to have come from roadkill near the national park.
The report stated that the park denied the accusations, dismissing them as rumours, and its director of security Liu Bin said elk roadkill would be transported to a designated location for ground burial.
But an investigation by the Jiangsu broadcaster uncovered a different story, it said, after reporters posing as tourists visited Yaqin Seafood Restaurant, across the road from the west gate of the park, in May.
The owner of the restaurant, surnamed Liu, told them he served wild elk meat. “It’s 150 yuan (US$22) for a plate for two people,” he was quoted as saying.
Liu said the elk meat was provided by poachers and by local farmers who had killed elks by accident, the report stated.
The journalists reported Liu to the police, who carried out a surprise inspection, but after the journalists returned the following day they reported that Liu showed them a photo of himself holding an antler and told them he had antlers for sale as well as the meat.
“Antler is prohibited for sale,” restaurant owner Liu was quoted as saying. “This is definitely an authentic elk antler.”
“It’s definitely illegal to sell or eat elk meat – elk is covered by national animal protection,” Lu Kecheng, director of the Wildlife Plant Protection Centre in Jiangsu province, told the reporters.
Jiangsu News Broadcasting said it had called Liu again to ask if he had elk meat for sale and Liu said that he was out of stock but that they could pre-order elk meat from poachers.
The reporters called for the natural park, police and bureau of industry and commerce to jointly conduct an investigation into the illegal sale of the meat.