July 24, 2006

Chinese police detains smuggler of panda cub fur

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese police have detained a man
trying to sell the fur of a young panda -- seen as a national
treasure in the country -- for about $30,000, the official
Xinhua news agency said on Monday.

The man, surnamed Yang, was caught when he was about to
finish the 250,000 yuan ($31,310) sale in the southeastern port
city of Xiamen, Xinhua said.

"The fur is 60 centimeters (24 inches) long and belonged to
a panda cub," it quoted experts as saying.

Yang and his accomplice, who is wanted by police, bought
the fur with 6,000 yuan seven years ago from a man in the
country's southwest where most pandas live, the report said,
adding police also found the pelt of a clouded leopard with

The giant panda is one of the world's most exotic and
endangered species and is found only in China. An estimated
1,500 wild pandas live in isolated nature reserves in Sichuan,
Gansu and Shaanxi provinces.

Xinhua did not say what charges Yang would face, but
poachers and smugglers of endangered animals could be jailed
for more than 10 years and fined in China.