World’s Biggest Slaughterhouse Of Endangered Shark Whales Discovered In Puqi, Southern China [PHOTOS]

By Ajit Jha on January 30, 2014 9:45 AM EST

A man takes apart a whale shark in the Puqi slaughterhouse.
A man takes apart a whale shark in the Puqi slaughterhouse.


Puqi, a town in the Chinese province of Zhejiang, has been exposed as the ghastliest killing field for whale sharks, according to conservationists in Hong Kong, who have released photos of this slaughterhouse. Theconservation group conducted its investigation for four years before announcing their belief that the "factory" in Southern China is clandestinely processing a whopping 600 whale sharks every year.

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This is easily the biggest slaughterhouse for the endangered species, according to WildLifeRisk, the conservation group from Hong Kong. The directors of WildLifeRisk in a press release claimed that they visited the illegal slaughterhouse three times within three years to discover the truly staggering level of slaughter each time. The slaughter on "such an industrial scale is beyond belief - all for human vanity; lipsticks, face creams, health supplements, shark fin soup restaurants etc," they said.

The directors further claimed that "oil samples were obtained for DNA testing to confirm that the products were in fact of endangered origin. Samples were sent for DNA testing to 'Save Our Seas Shark Research Center' and the 'Guy Harvey Research Institute' in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States."

Workers in the Puqi slaughterhouse taking apart sharks for use in consumer products.
Workers in the Puqi slaughterhouse taking apart sharks for use in consumer products.


The video footage of this illegal slaughterhouse recorded by the group shows workers slashing away at different species of sharks including whale sharks, basking sharks, and blue sharks. It is thought that the annual production of shark oil from these three endangered species is about 200 tons. In addition, this slaughterhouse has also been implicated in the illegal export and import of shark whales to European nations including France and Italy.

According to an estimate made by researchers at Canada's Dalhousie University early last year, in the year 2000 about a 100 million sharks were killed; the figure fell down to 97 million in 2010. However, in the absence of sufficient data, the researchers estimated the actual annual illegal shark deaths could be anywhere between 63 million and 273 million.

A whale shark captured on a Chinese fishing boat.
A whale shark captured on a Chinese fishing boat.


Listed on the Red List of endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, whale sharks can be as long as 12 meters. They are not known to be harmful to humans. They mostly feed on tiny marine animals. Whale sharks are also listed on Appendix II of the UN's Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, a major implication of which is that nations dealing with shark trade must verify that they source this product from sustainable populations. In 2012, when China's shark fin market suffered a setback, the conservation groups were hopeful that China might become more actively involved in shark preservation. However, the recent discovery of the biggest slaughterhouse belies the hope.

Shark fins stacked up in the courtyard of the Puqi slaughterhouse.
Shark fins stacked up in the courtyard of the Puqi slaughterhouse.
A man examines a shark fin in the outdoor area of the Puqi slaughterhouse in China.
A man examines a shark fin in the outdoor area of the Puqi slaughterhouse in China.
Signs outside the slaughterhouse in Puqi, China, proclaiming the facility as a
Signs outside the slaughterhouse in Puqi, China, proclaiming the facility as a "factory."

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