Endangered pangolins, which have long been illegally trafficked onto the dinner plates of unscrupulous diners, are being injected with stimulants, tranquilizers and even cement, it was reported Sunday.
A report published by the Beijing-based Legal Mirror newspaper explained that it is an open secret in the underground trade that tranquilizers and stimulants are given to live pangolins while they are transported, traces of which may remain in the meat served to consumers.
Cement and other heavy materials are injected into dead pangolins to make them heavier, so they can be sold for more money, the report added.
According to the report, the majority of China's smuggled pangolins come from Southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
It is believed by some that the flesh of pangolins has medicinal properties.
However, the extra ingredients injected into the animals mean "one is more likely to poison you than make you healthier," one police officer who investigated such trafficking was quoted as saying by the report.
A pangolin smuggler sentenced to 10 and half years behind bars by a court in East China's Zhejiang Province in November 2016 explained that he would inject the creatures with rice powder to make them heavier.
Zhong and his accomplice Wu, who has also been arrested, smuggled 27 live pangolins and three frozen ones from Dongxing, Guangxi to Zhejiang and sold them for 900 yuan per kilogram.
Pangolin smuggling has been in the spotlight since a Sina Weibo post went viral on February 6, claiming that "the Guangxi government officials invited people to eat pangolins."