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AP-China Busts Rare Species Smuggle

Subject: AP-China Busts Rare Species Smugglers

Thursday July 8 8:34 AM ET

China Busts Rare Species Smugglers

BEIJING (AP) - Investigators have uncovered a smuggling ring that used
China's postal service to sell thousands of skins and other parts of
endangered tigers, leopards, cobras and other wild animals, state media
reported Thursday.

Authorities in the southwestern province of Yunnan seized a half-ton of
animal parts - including monkey skulls, elephant tusks, cobra and pit viper
skins - in the largest such seizure since in five decades, the official
China Daily reported.

Customs inspectors in Ruili, a town near China's border with Myanmar,
discovered the animal contraband during routine checks of mail bags, the
newspaper said.

Investigators traced the bags to a house where they found the animal parts
in ready-to-mail bundles, the newspaper reported. The smugglers used regular
mail service to avoid recently stepped-up border controls aimed at combating
traffic in contraband, the paper quoted police as saying.

Chinese have a love for eating exotic creatures and use their parts in
traditional medical cures. Wealthy Chinese communities in Hong Kong, Taiwan
and Southeast Asia have been a major market for traffickers in endangered