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Tibet Wildlife Seizure - India Confirmed as Source of Skins

18th February, 2004

The Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) yesterday received confirmation that all the skins that were seized in Angren County, China, in October 2003, originated and were smuggled directly from India. The seizure by the Chinese authorities was one of the biggest in history, and included 31 tiger skins, 581 leopard skins and 778 otter skins. The tiger skins represented about 1% of India's entire population of wild tigers.

You can view a picture of the seizure on website

Below is a translation of an article that originally appeared in the Beijing Youth Daily on February 14th, 2004.

Contributor: CCTV Legal Online
Translated from Chinese

Seizure at Lhasa:
31 Bengal tiger skins; 581 leopard skins and 778 Eurasian otter skins

31 tiger skins, 581 leopard skins, 778 Eurasian otter skins and 2 lynx skins, as well as one fake tiger skin, were seized on October 8th 2003 at a police checkpoint at Sansan, a small township at Angren County, southwest of Tibet. Policemen at the temporary checkpoint stopped the truck on its way from Ali to Lhasa with the 1,393 pieces of smuggled skins of endangered species.

The officers also found many newspapers, mostly Indian newspapers, in these bags with the wildlife skins, clearly revealing the origin of the animals.

According to Li Jianwen, vice director of Anti-Smuggling Bureau of Lhasa Customs, "when questioned, the driver claimed the goods were wool; but only three bags of wool were found; and the rest were bags of tiger and leopard skins and others".

"Many of these tiger skins have bullet holes; and some of tiger skins are rather small, which might only be tiger cubs of several months' old”, said Li Jianwen.

Three people on the truck,who are Tibetans, were taken to Angren Country police station. The driver, Laba Zeren, said he was not aware what the goods were in his truck, and that he was only paid to deliver the goods from Ali to Lhasa. The other two people claimed to be only hitchhikers.

Suspecting it to be a smuggling case, Angren police notified Lhasa Customs. The Lhasa Customs officers soon arrived at Angren County and started the probe.

The three suspects did not admit their previous acquaintance, but the police detected the Chinese currency notes on each of them were in the same number series, evidence that the three might have been involved in the deal.

After consulting with the Customs authority at Ali, where the truck came from, the police learnt that the three had been detained before on September 16th 2003, for trying to sneak into India, but they were released afterwards due to lack of evidence.

After their first failed attempt to receive "goods" on September 16th 2003 from an Indian supplier, the three managed to receive these animal skins late at night on October 4th 2003 at the India-China border. Four days later, the three were caught by the police at Sansan checkpoint on their way to Lhasa.

The profiles of the three accused are as follows - Dunzhu (age 36, Tibetan, from Mangkang County, Changdu), Gongbu (age 22, from Mangkang County, Changdu), and Laba Zeren (age 34; from Gongju County).

(Note: The translation of the names of people and places is Chinese version.)





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