Chinese tourists in Laos have been chowing down on tiger meat and bear paws

By Erik Crouch, March 19, 2015

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We've had a fair few stories lately about Chinese tourists' bad behavior abroad. There was diarrhea baby. Foot washers. Maternity hotels. But this may be a new low: in Laos, a "lawless playground" of illegal wildlife meat trading has developed in service to Chinese tourists.

According to The Guardian, conservation groups have spotted dishes ranging from "saute tiger meat" to bear paws on the menus of multiple Lao restaurants. The group refers to the meat-trading area as "more like an extension of China," and cite a large number of Chinese businesses and visitors in the region.

The demand for endangered meat is fueled significantly by the reasonably widespread belief that the animals contain aphrodisiac or medicinal qualities.

This isn't the first time endangered animals have been on the market in southeast Asia due to an influx of Chinese visitors and residents. In October, Chinese government officials were spotted in Yunnan, close to the China-Vietnam border, chowing down on all sorts of endangered animals.

Even when you take the aphrodisiacs out of the equation, things still don't look good - there was outcry just over a month ago when Chinese tourists were photographed gleefully killing and eating endangered sea creatures in the South China sea, and breaking off massive chunks of rare coral... for some reason (they took a lot of glamour-shot photos of themselves holding the endangered creatures).

In the meantime, authorities in Laos have been called upon to tackle the meat trade near their Chinese border. They might be able to close some shops selling the meat, but it doesn't look like demand is going to die down anytime soon.

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