In southern China, police intercepted three foreigners trying to sneak over the border with precious cargo — more than 3,600 crocodiles. By the time police arrested the smugglers, 42 of the Siamese crocs (an endangered species) had died of dehydration and overheating. But if the police hadn’t intervened, the rest would have met an equally gruesome fate, as dinner for the culinarily adventurous in Guangdong province.

This was a particularly large load: The crocodiles weighed more than 17 tons in all. But according to the Guardian, environmental watchdogs like Zheng Yuanying, southern China program director for Green Eye of China, say that smugglers are slipping smaller shipments of reptiles over the border all the time:

Zhang said authorities needed to further strengthen border inspections, adding he had heard of people simply walking across the border with crocodiles in boxes on their backs.

That sounds like a dangerous way to transport a large animal with bone-crushing jaw strength. But if humans are going to eat endangered crocodiles, perhaps it’s only fair that endangered crocodiles get a slim shot at eating humans, too?

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