A man has been convicted of catching, killing and eating what may have been the last wild Indochinese tiger in China.

Kang Wannian, a villager from Mengla in the southwestern Yunnan Province, got a 12-year sentence and was fined a total of 580,000 including compensation to the state for economic losses. He had denied the charges.

He encountered the tiger while gathering freshwater clams in a nature reserve near the China-Laos border in February of this year. He claimed to have killed the tiger in self-defence.

A local court gave Kang 10 years for killing a rare animal plus two years for illegal possession of firearms. Prosecutors said Kang did not need a gun to gather clams.

He claimed to have shot what he called an “unspecified animal” in the dark while searching for a kind of frog with one other villager.


However the court was also told Kang and six other villagers returned to the scene the next day, located the dead tiger and dismembered it for eating.

Four of these villagers were also sentenced to three to four years in jail for “covering up and concealing criminal gains” and fined 10-20,000 each.

Kang had surrendered in June to police, who seized two firearms at his home.

The only known wild Indochinese tiger known to be left in China was photographed in 2007 at the same nature reserve. Local newspaper Life News reported earlier this month that the tiger has not been seen since Kang’s incident.

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

The Indochinese tiger, seen above,  is thought to be on the brink of extinction, with fewer than 1,000 left in the forests of Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Burma.

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