Police in China’s Yunnan province have arrested 10 people in connection with a panda poaching operation after discovering several pounds of panda meat, plus fur and skeletal fragments.
The crime has been condemned by thousands in China, where pandas are considered a national treasure and are protected by Chinese law.
Authorities traced the death of the panda to two brothers who apparently went into the woods to track down the animal suspected of killing one of their sheep. The panda, an adult female, was shot twice and later butchered. It is unknown if the panda was actually responsible for killing the sheep, as the bear’s diet is primarily vegetarian.
The brothers were arrested, along with the man who allegedly purchased the panda meat. Police did not detail how the remaining seven arrests are connected to the case.
If convicted, the men face a minimum prison sentence of 10 years. Before 1997, the killing of pandas in China was subject to capital punishment.