China wildlife office sued over 'paper tiger' saga
Dec 11, 2007
BEIJING - A LEGAL scholar has sued China's top wildlife authority for not getting involved in a national controversy over a farmer's 'snapshots' of a wild tiger believed to be extinct, a newspaper said.
In October, Mr Zhou Zhenglong, from mountainous Zhenping county in the northern province of Shaanxi, produced photographs of the tiger he said were taken in the forest near his village.
A local forestry authority said the photographs were proof that the South China tiger, belonging to a subspecies long feared extinct, still existed in the wild.
But Internet users have accused Mr Zhou of making the tiger images with digital software, and local authorities of approving the photographs to bolster tourism.
China's top wildlife office, the State Forestry Administration, has drawn fire for sponsoring a so far fruitless search for the tiger, and for refusing to rule on the veracity of the photographs which experts have lined up to dismiss as fakes.
Mr Hao Jingsong decided to sue the wildlife office after it turned down his demands to appoint a 'professional organisation' to verify the photographs, according to Tuesday's Procuratorial Daily, an official paper of China's top prosecutors' office.
'The (administration) sent a group of experts to Zhenping to conduct investigations into the tiger, without first verifying that the photographs were real,' the paper quoted Mr Hao as saying.
'This is irresponsible behaviour,' said Hao, adding that the suit was a 'call for official credibility'.
The suit would be registered by the Beijing Second Intermediate People's Court within a week, the paper said, citing a court official.
The South China tiger debate has captivated local media and Internet users in China, and has intensified in recent weeks following the emergence of a Chinese New Year commemorative poster whose image of a tiger bears a striking resemblance to the one in Mr Zhou's pictures.
Earlier this month, a panel of photography, zoology and botany experts that analysed Mr Zhou's pictures out of a 'sense of social responsibility', unanimously dismissed his tiger as faked. -- REUTERS
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