Beijing 27 April 2010 – Chinese police arrested two Mongolian citizens after finding two snow leopard skins and a snow leopard skull hidden inside their jeep at a border checkpoint, state media said Tuesday.
Police in the remote Alxa League of north China’s Inner Mongolia region spent 10 hours searching the vehicle that had more than 40 hidden compartments, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
The smuggled skins and skull had an estimated value of more than 200,000 yuan (29,000 dollars) on the black market, the agency quoted Zhao Jun, an anti-smuggling officer from the regional capital, as saying.
Experts say snow leopard skins from Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan are often smuggled across the borders to be sold in China or abroad.
Only about 6,000 snow leopards are believed to remain in the wild in 12 central and southern Asian nations, according to international wildlife protection groups.
Last month, a court in China’s far western region of Xinjiang – which borders Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan – sentenced two herdsmen to long prison terms after they were convicted of trapping and killing a snow leopard.
In a major case in 2007 in Gansu province, between Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang, police seized a record 27 snow leopard skins when they investigated a report of illegal trading in endangered animal parts.