Police have apprehended 10 suspects for allegedly killing a wild panda and selling its meat in China’s southwestern province of Yunnan, the country’s state broadcaster reported.
Police were tipped off last December about the illegal selling of bear meat, but further investigation and DNA tests proved an alarming discovery, the report said.
“We realized this was a serious case when test results came back saying panda. To be cautious we asked them to run the tests again, and it was confirmed, this was panda,” said Shi Qin, the forensic science director of Yunnan’s police department in an interview with China Central Television.
Three of the 10 suspects have been formally arrested and the two prime suspects, brothers surnamed Wang, confessed to the police that they shot a female panda in a tree unknowingly, thinking it was just a “big animal.”
They later sold 35 kilograms (77 lbs) of meat, and the panda’s paws for 4800 yuan ($773).
Police uncovered the pelt of a panda, parts of a skull, and other remains at the suspects’ home.
Giant pandas are one of the world’s most endangered species, and the World Wildlife Fundestimates there are 1,800 pandas living in the wild.