AFP

BEIJING

Ten people have been detained in China over the killing of an endangered wild panda for its meat and fur, state media said on Wednesday. A panda skin was discovered in December along with 9.75 kilograms of meat, four bones and a gallbladder, state broadcaster CCTV reported. While there is a thriving black market trade in exotic animal parts in China, it is unusual to hear of panda meat being sold.

Police found two brothers had shot the animal in forest near Zhaotong, a poverty-stricken city in China's Yunnan province, it said. Images showed the black and white skin - said to be that of an adult female - laid out on a floor alongside a tape measure. CCTV said a person who bought the animal's meat from the brothers had also been detained. The identities of the other seven people held, and their connections to the case, were not stated. Under Chinese law, killing protected animals such as pandas can result in a jail sentence of up to 10 years. China is home to 1,864 wild giant pandas according to state-run media, with a government agency crediting conservation measures for an increase of 17 percent over the decade to 2013. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature classes them as ‘endangered’. The giant panda's natural habitat mostly lies in mountainous southwestern China. They have a notoriously low reproductive rate and are under pressure from factors such as habitat loss.