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Chinese city declares war on piranhas following attacks on locals

The government of Liuzhou is offering a reward equivalent to $157 for every fish caught.
china Piranha 2012 07 12Enlarge
Its not the first time piranhas have been spotted in China's Liu River. (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)

The city of Liuzhou in southern China is offering a reward to anyone who catches a piranha after two residents complained of being attacked.

The Guardian's Beijing correspondent said that one man, named as Zhang Kaibo, needed stitches in his hand after three of the fish attacked him as he washed his dog in the Liu river.  "Later on, my mum cut it into pieces and we planned to eat it. [But] some local officials came to my home and collected it to study," he said.

The local government has confirmed that the attackers were Serrasalmus sanchezi, a species of piranha which is mostly found in the Amazon River, says the China Daily.  The species cannot live in water that is cooler than 59 degrees Fahrenheit and it is unlikely they will be able to reproduce in the river, an official statement reportedly said.  However, they pose a risk to local fish and may hurt swimmers, it said.

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"People, including members of Liuzhou Fishing Association and ordinary residents, are asked to go catch the fish with free meat provided by the city government," Lu Zhengxiang, general secretary of the fishing association, said, according to Global Times. "Anyone who catches a piranha will be given a reward of 1,000 yuan ($157)."

Since the announcement was made, residents have been seen fishing on the river, using pork, mutton and liver to try and snag one of the fish and claim a reward.

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"It's horrible to know that the river has such fish. I will not swim there anymore," resident Liu Junjie was quoted as saying by Reuters, adding: "I'll pray they catch them soon."

The Wall Street Journal remarks that this is not the first time piranhas have been spotted in the Liu River, whose ecosystem is said to mimic that of the Amazon’s making it a suitable environment for the piranhas.

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