By Rhishja Cota-Larson
The bodies of nine beheaded bears — with their paws missing — have been discovered in the Republic of Buryatia, near the Russia-Mongolia border. According to the Siberian Times, the bears were likely trapped and shot in a remote location, and then brought to a suburb of Ulan-Ude “to be dismembered before the high-value remains were smuggled to China”.
The fear is that the poaching was undertaken as an order from the Chinese black market where bear products have a high value as delicacies and for medicinal purposes.
It was also noted that the “fat and bile” had been removed from the dead bears.
Unfortunately, this is not the region’s first bear crime.
Blagoveshchensk Customs officials recently detained a vehicle which was found to be transporting 115 bear paws. The driver said it was “a cargo from Buryatia to be delivered to the village of Zabaikalsk located near the Russian-Chinese border”.
A customs spokesperson told the Siberian Times that the smuggling of bear parts is common in the area.
In August 2011, Blagoveshchensk Customs was awarded a CITES Certificate of Commendation after confiscating 71 bear paws from a Chinese-registered vessel headed for China.