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A.J. Haywood

Biggest-ever smuggling operation of tiger and bear body parts foiled close to Chinese border

By The Siberian Times reporter
01 February 2018

Daring criminals intended to walk across frozen lake to take skins and ‘potency cures’ into China.

‘Two tigers were killed not less than three years ago; two other tigers – very recently, one of them was killed this winter.’ Picture: RusGosNews

A major operation FSB agents and customs officers foiled the smuggling of the poached remains of hundreds of illegally hunted wild animals. 

In an operation ‘out of a movie’, criminals planned to walk across frozen Khanka Lake from Russia to China avoiding customs.

In their haul, FSB operatives found the skins of five highly endangered Amur, or Siberian tigers, along with 867 paws of brown and Asiatic (black) bears. 

They also seized claws and gall bladders, tails and genitals of red deer and other deer, and dozens of kilograms of dried fat and testicles of frogs.

The black market value of the bear paws - used as food delicacies and also traditional treatments in China - was put at $1 million.

Weapons including a Saiga hunting rifle were also found. 

Biggest-ever smuggling operation of tiger and bear body parts foiled close to Chinese border


Biggest-ever smuggling operation of tiger and bear body parts foiled close to Chinese border


Biggest-ever smuggling operation of tiger and bear body parts foiled close to Chinese border


Biggest-ever smuggling operation of tiger and bear body parts foiled close to Chinese border


Biggest-ever smuggling operation of tiger and bear body parts foiled close to Chinese border


Biggest-ever smuggling operation of tiger and bear body parts foiled close to Chinese border
‘A minimum of 216 bears must have been illegally slaughtered to obtain the paws.' Pictures: RusGosNews


The gang comprising Russian and Chinese citizens was seized in the shore of the border lake. Three Chinese and two Russians were detained and face a criminal investigation after what is described as  'the biggest ever smuggling of Amur tiger and bear parts'.

The distance across the frozen freshwater is around 45 kilometres, connecting Russia’s Primorsky region with China’s Heilongjiang province.

In China the lake is known as Xingkai.

‘Thanks to highly coordination and quick actions, the officers of Far East Customs, FSB State Border Service and Far East regional FSB managed to stop the poachers and prevented damaging the evidence of their crime,’ a statement read.

Sergey Aramilev, head of the Amur Tiger Centre said a major smuggling channel had been blocked. 

‘Unfortunately, I can’t disclose all the details of Far East customs officers’ work because of the ongoing criminal investigation, but I am sure that this story one day will turn into a movie script,’ he said.

‘The poachers had been gathering animal body parts for a long time throughout the whole of the Russian Far East. 

‘Two tigers were killed not less than three years ago.

‘Two other tigers – very recently, one of them was killed this winter.’ 

A minimum of 216 bears must have been illegally slaughtered to obtain the paws.

Bear gallbladders and bile are seen as a popular boost to male sexual performance in Asian countries even though such a notion is dismissed by mainstream medics.

They are also used for 'treatments' for cardiac problems, eye puffiness, asthma, cancer, and burns.

Comments (7)

Come to NC and kill bears! Too many of them!
Cho Fo Whoa, Somewhere USA
19/03/2020 10:55
0
0
So disgusting...
Liselotte Pettersson, Sweden
07/02/2018 11:09
0
0
Thank you to all of you for sharing your ideas and perspectives. I think a combination of what all of you are saying makes a great deal of sense. We have to value our law enforcement with higher compensation and empower them with better "tools" as well as turn greed on itself. Thank you to everyone not participating in the demand side of this horrific "equation" as well.
Pamela K Tetarenko, League City, USA
03/02/2018 21:31
1
0
Incentives can solve anything. Have a lucrative bounty on poachers. The poachers will start poaching each other for the money. Then to clean up - send in Russian Special Forces for a live practice drill. Yes - I'm deadly serious.
Robert Olin, Clinton, USA
03/02/2018 06:49
4
0
Andreas Suarez while i do sympathise with your comment, will it help what you suggest? why do -locals- go poaching? might that be in Africa hunting, in Astrachan fishing for Caviar.Or hunting for bear paws. or in Afghanistan planting poppies for Opium. is it really gree alone? or do they just have no other way to earn HONEST money to feed their families? and get at least a few of the comfort things that we take for granted? maybe money from auctions can also be used to improve and educate these locals. to show them that these animals are worth far more alive than dead? and most of the time the law catches anyway the little fish. the big ones are sitting fat and rich somewhere. why is there no Interpol going after them? because they are rich and have powerful friends who might protect them? THAT is where the law must begin. well, who will tell them?
Benedikt MORAK, Moscow
02/02/2018 03:20
1
1
If you auction the items to the highest price you will only create the incentive for the next criminals to go hunting. You strengthen a little the police force, and in exchange raise thousands of aspiring criminals.

The items must be destroyed. The brain-less people who consume bear paws must get clear the message that no matter how much they are willing to pay, they will not get them. Furthermore, the consumers should go to jail along with the hunters, they are equal criminals.
Andres Suarez, Mexico
01/02/2018 23:24
5
0
and what is going to happen with the confiscated things? burning them? destroying them? would be a shame. since the animals are dead already, burning the confiscated items will not make them alive anymore.rather AUCTION THEM OFF to the highest chinese bidder. let them do it anonymous if they want it. under strict supervision of PETA, WMF or whoever else. and than use the money to buy equipments, arms, tools for the rangers. use part of it to give them a bonus. so they have even more incentive to catch the scum.
by the way i think the same should be done with the thousands of tons of ivory and rhino horns that are being stored in government warehouses in Africa. burning them will also not bring the animals there back to live. but the money can be of good use by the Rangers.
Benedikt MORAK, Moscow
01/02/2018 21:10
2
4
1

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