April 27, 2006

China seizes hundreds of bear paws, pangolins

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese police have seized hundreds of
bear paws and dead pangolins that smugglers had injected with
tranquillisers, the online edition of the official Yunnan Daily
said on Thursday.

Police in the southwestern province of Yunnan announced on
Sunday that 20 members of a ring smuggling endangered animals
had been arrested, the Web site of the Yunnan provincial
government mouthpiece said.

Investigators seized 278 bear paws and 416 pangolins that
had been smuggled by truck or train from Yunnan to three
neighboring provinces over a period of 45 days from December to

Ring members injected the pangolins with tranquillizers to
prevent them from making noise during transport, the daily
said, quoting the Spring City Evening News. The provincial
public security department and forest police reached by
telephone declined to comment.

Bear's paw is a Chinese delicacy, while pangolin meat is
believed to cure asthma.

Other exotic wildlife that make their way onto Chinese
dinner tables include camel's hump and monkey's brain. Tiger
bones dipped in liquor are considered a tonic and tiger penis
is believed to be an aphrodisiac.

China issued new penalties for illegally hunting and
marketing endangered animals in 1994 as part of efforts to end
a centuries-old tradition of eating exotic wildlife.