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Major seizure of woolly mammoth tusks and precious stones bound for China

By The Siberian Times reporter
25 November 2015

Separately, 18 frozen bear paws hidden in coal cargo train nabbed by customs.

Hidden cargo worth at least $305,000 was impounded on the Russian-Chinese border. Picture: Far Eastern Operational Customs

A haul of 200 kilograms of mammoth tusks and half a ton of precious and semi-precious stones worth at least $305,000 - and possibly a far higher value - was impounded on the Russian-Chinese border. The goods were concealed under fake flooring in a Frenchlayner truck.

There were sacks of tusks of extinct woolly mammoths and 500 kilograms of stones along with seven sacks of soil, the composition of which is currently still being studied by experts.

Mammoth tusk

Mammoth tusks

At least one tusk seems to have been stolen from a Russian museum. Pictures: Far Eastern Operational Customs

A 300 kg quantity of the stones was identified as charoite, a rare lavender-shaded silicate mineral which has been described as the most exotic gem on the planet, found only in the Sakha Republic of Siberia. Some 200 kg of white and green jade was also hidden in the illegal consignment, as was a 4 kg of Yakut emerald. At least one tusk seems to have been stolen from a Russian museum.

Another batch of two dozen mammoth tusks was found in two Chinese minibuses, it was revealed. 

Semyon Grigoryev, director of the Mammoth Museum in Yakutsk, said: 'Potential resources of mammoth tusks just in the north of Yakutia may be up to 450,000  tons. 

Yakut emerald



Yakut emerald, jade and charoite were concealed under fake flooring in a Frenchlayner truck. Pictures: Far Eastern Operational Customs

'There is a steady demand for this in both domestic and foreign markets. We, the scientists of the Mammoth Museum, cannot control illegal gathering of the tusks.'

The bear paws were found in a cargo train at Zabaikalsk - bound for China. The frozen paws were packed in plastic bags and hidden in a carriage full of coal. The culprits are unidentified.

Bear paws and tusks have potential medicinal value in China. 

The bear paws were found in a cargo train at Zabaikalsk - bound for China. Picture: Trans-Baikal Border Guards

Bear paws

Comments (2)

The second picture is a male walrus tusk.
Qunungnagruq, Kotzebue, Alaska
26/11/2015 19:15
wonder where these things are heading than further? or correctly documented follow up, with photos and video for sure would help. the ´law´takes it from the crooks. and just have it disappear from the ´law´is not the whole idea either.
though i would suggest items that were stolen should be returned to the lawful owners. and the rest auctioned off at a public,open auction. the proceeds should go to these offices who fight smuggling,poaching and the likes.
Benedikt, Moscow,Russia
26/11/2015 10:52

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