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Farmer gets 13-year sentence for buying, selling swan meat in China

A farmer charged with buying state-protected swans and selling the meat was sentenced to 13 years in jail, state media reported.

Zhang Yuelin, 48, from Henan province, was accused of buying 38 dead swans and one kilogram of swan down in October and November of last year. He plucked the swans and hid them in his backyard, later selling 37 of the carcasses for 3,000 yuan (about US$392, EUR291), the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The People's Court of Lingbao City called the case "serious" and said Zhang "should be punished accordingly," Xinhua said. The court ruled that the man knew the swans were listed for state protection and broke the law by illegally purchasing and selling more than 10 of the birds.

Zhang was also fined 50,000 yuan (US$6,534, Ђ4,858.72).

The Chinese government has stepped up enforcement of animal protection laws in recent years in an attempt to preserve rare animals such as pandas, tigers and some birds at risk of extinction. Beijing says awareness of animal protection has risen along with China's economic growth.