Whether an animal is on the critically endangered list or not apparently doesn’t matter to Chinese officials determined to have their delicacies. Journalists took pictures at a luxury banquet that reportedly reveal Chinese police officials feasting on the endangered giant salamander. Media reports say that the banquet soon turned violent after reporters called the officials out on their dining choice and several journalists were attacked.

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Senior officials from the town of Shenzen, told the Global Times, “In my territory, it is my treat.” Some believe the giant salamander has anti-aging properties although there is no scientific evidence to support this claim. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the species is considered to be critically endangered. They report that the species has declined catastrophically over the last 30 years.

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As for the journalists reporting the incident, “[o]ne was kicked and slapped, another had his mobile phone forcibly taken, while the photographer was choked, beaten up and had his camera smashed,” according to the Guardian. Fourteen police officers have been suspended and an investigation has been launched.

The salamander was bred in captivity, according to the Guardian, and brought by one of the diners. Chinese president Xi Jinping has launched a much-publicized austerity drive for the ruling classes, including a campaign for simple meals with the catchphrase “four dishes and one soup,” and is, according to the ruling Communist party, “cracking down” on the consumption of endangered species, such as tiger and shark fin.

Via The Guardian

Lead image via Shutterstock, photos by Flickr/Harem Koh and Toby Jungen