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.
DIBRUGARH, April 1 – Five kilograms of bones and a fur-covered body skin of a highly-endangered Himalayan snow leopard was seized from one Sanjib Jalan from the heart of the city on March 27.
The police led by additional SP Debashish Sharma reportedly caught Jalan redhanded while he was striking the deal with one Ranjan Tasa in a furniture shop, close to Sadar police station. Police arrested the duo and further investigation is on.
Police is yet to find out how the skin and the bones reached the city, as these rare, beautiful snow leopards are reportedly not found in any parts of the northeastern region. They are traced to the mountains of central Asia.
In India, they are found in the snowy Himalayan region. These animals are insulated by thick hair, and their wide, fur-covered feet act as natural snowshoes. These endangered cats appear to be in declining because of the demand of their fur, skin. Besides, illegal traders look for these animals as its body parts are reportedly used for traditional Chinese medicines.
Tiger skin trade in China exposed By Jody Bourton
Earth News reporter
An undercover investigation has revealed the continued trade in tiger skins in China. Covert filming by the Environment Investigation Agency shows traders selling skins of tigers and other rare animals such as snow leopards. The skins are sold as luxury items and are used for clothes and home decor. The campaigning group has published its investigation a few days before an international summit on big cat conservation in Kathmandu, Nepal. Buying and selling big cat skins and body parts is illegal in China. People are buying them for prestige, skins are very expensive and tend to cost around 20,000 US dollars each
Alasdair Cameron Environmental Investigation Agency However, a team from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), based in London, UK and WashingtonDC, US says its investigations reveal the trade in big cats still occurs in many parts of the country, including Tibet. Between 25 July and 19 August 2009 the EIA carried out investigations in markets in five cities in western China. Skin sale In just 21 days the team was offered four full tiger skins, 12 leopard skins, 11 snow leopard skins and two clouded leopard skins as well as associated bones and teeth from the species. “It’s really quite significant,” says EIA spokesperson Alasdair Cameron. “What’s interesting is the market has changed. Previously the market was for skins amongst the Tibetan community, that market has largely collapsed and what we’re seeing now is skins bought for decoration and taxidermy amongst Chinese businesspeople,” he says. “People are buying them for prestige, skins are very expensive and tend to cost around 20,000 US dollars each,” Mr Cameron explains. “We’re also being told skins are being used for non-financial bribery within China, so the demand is increasing outside of the Tibetan areas.” The EIA says the animals are being smuggled into China from various places including Tibet, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Covert operation The team captured the illegal trade on film using a hidden camera while they enquired about animal skins on sale. What surprised the team was how easy it was to find and purchase the endangered animal products. “There is some law enforcement in China, in a few regions, but there are whole swathes of the country where this trade is allowed to carry on with almost no fear of detection,” Mr Cameron says. “Some of the places we have been to, skins are openly displayed in shop windows while police cars drive past.” Debbie Banks, lead campaigner of the EIA, believes not is enough is being done by the Chinese authorities to combat the trade. “If China can put a man into space, they can do more to save the wild tiger,” she says. Tiger meet On the 27 October a summit is being held in Kathmandu, Nepal to discuss how best to save wild tigers from extinction. The Kathmandu Global Tiger Workshop will bring together tiger experts and conservation organisations from around the world to further efforts to protect the animal, especially running up to the Chinese calendar’s year of the tiger in 2010. However, Mr Cameron has mixed feelings about the forthcoming year of the tiger. “We’re hoping to use the year of the tiger as a way to highlight the threats faced by the animal but traders in China are actually saying that next year is going to be great because people will want to get a piece of the tiger in the year of the tiger.” “There could actually be a spike in demand.” Story from BBC NEWS: