Exotic — and illegal — items from sautéed tiger meat to bear cubs are on offer at a resort in Laos, according to the Environmental Investigation Agency.
The London-based Agency said in a report that the sprawling resort on a special economic zone that bridges Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand operates as a “lawless playground,” in large part, for and by Chinese nationals who have a taste for “wild flavor.”
In addition to menu items that included everything from python to pangolin, but also offered tiger bone wine. Drinkers of the traditional brew believe that it can do everything from enhance circulation to cure arthritis. One black market seller told the Daily Beast that consuming the stuff on a regular gave him the strength of a tiger and the senses of a predator.
Investigators found that the resort didn’t just sell tiger bone wine, but that the drink that was made in-house.
The Agency found four tigers on site when it visited in mid-2014, but investigators found that it held 26 of them last month — and plans to keep as many as 500.
Investigators who toured the animal enclosure said the head keeper, who claimed to have worked on several Chinese tiger wine facilities, “gave the impression that there were no restrictions on the keeping, breeding or trading of captive tigers in Laos.”
In fact, Laos is a signatory of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES, which outlaws the breeding of endangered animals for trade purposes. So too are Myanmar and Thailand — although the three countries that come together to form the so-called “Golden Triangle” have become a sort of haven for the trafficking and sale of endangered animals to feed a growing appetite for them in China and Japan.
“The activities within the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone constitute an intolerable disregard for international law as it concerns the illegal wildlife trade and endangered species,” Debbie Banks of EIA said in a statement.
On Thursday, authorities seized more than 220 pounds of African ivory in Thailand and arrested two smugglers in one of the biggest busts in recent years.
Last month, customs officers caught two tourists they tried to smuggle a sort of Noah’s Ark of endangered animals from Thailand to their native Japan. The men has been carrying 144 exotic animals including turtles, geckos, snakes, and woodchucks in their suitcases.