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Global Ideas

Multiple arrests in wildlife raid in China

Police in Beijing have arrested 16 people on suspicion of involvement in a wildlife trafficking ring. The bust led to the confiscation of a horde of animal products including 35 bear paws.

Dubbed "May 21", the three month operation uncovered a trafficking ring active in Japan, Hong Kong and China, and secured more than 800 kilos of ivory and 11 kilos of rhino horn.

In a press conference, Beijing Forest Police referred to the seizure as the biggest ever in terms of the scale of the smuggling activities behind it. The gangs involved, they said, had their own processing factory, warehouses and transportation network, and used antique shops as a cover.

Wildlife organization, #link:http://www.traffic.org/home/2015/10/12/beijing-forest-police-smash-major-wildlife-trafficking-ring.html:TRAFFIC# applauded the success of the operation, which secured goods with a total value of some 3.5 million euros (4 million dollars).

"The Beijing Forest Police operation is a clear demonstration of the Chinese government’s commitment to crack down on illegal wildlife trade and support international efforts to protect endangered species," Zhou Fei, Head of TRAFFIC’s China Programme said. "As a Chinese proverb aptly says: 'Action is far more powerful than words'."

Thirty-five bear paws were also found in the raid. In parts of Asia they are consumed in soup, with some believing they boost human strength. Rhino horn, meanwhile, is believed in a number of Asian counties - Vietnam in particular - to be a health tonic. It is used as a cure for cancer and hangovers.

Hong Kong on pallets

Trade in ivory poses a serious threat to the world's elephant population

Further information released at the press conference indicates that Beijing Forest Police have arrested 108 people in more than 200 cases of illegal wildlife trafficking since 2013, and have seized products with a total value of approximately six million euros.

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