By Rhishja Cota-Larson
Authorities in China arrested three wildlife traffickers in Nanning and confiscated “hundreds” of bear paws, along with pangolin and tortoise carcasses, following a three-month investigation.
According to China Daily, the bear paws represented the slaughter of “at least 43 black bears”. The pangolins and tortoises were “sealed in a refrigerator and disguised as tea”. The contraband could have been worth 20 million yuan (US $3.15 million) on the black market.
Authorities suspect that the animal parts were “ordered” from Dongxing (which borders Vietnam), and sold in Nanning, Guangzhou, and Kunming.
While arrests and seizures are encouraging, the underlying issues regarding China’s role in the illegal wildlife trade — particularly tiger trade — have yet to be seriously addressed by CITES.
China has continued to ignore its responsibility as a signatory to CITES and has placed the credibility of the Global Tiger Recovery Plan (GTRP) at risk by continuing to breed tigers for their skins and body parts, as well as maintain stockpiles of frozen tiger carcasses.
Unless and until China is publicly taken to task by the global community for its commercial tiger farms — and bear farms and rhino farms — efforts to curb wildlife crime will continue to be undermined.