Radio Free Europe reported last Monday that the bones and skins of four Amur tigers were found in minibuses.
Authorities in Russia’s Far East said they detained several people on suspicion of smuggling parts of endangered Amur tigers, brown bears, and other animals.
Customs officers who searched two minibuses and a SUV that tried to illegally cross a frozen lake separating Russia from China found 870 brown bear paws and the bones and skins of four Amur tigers.
The Conservation Center in the Primorsky Krai region said that authorities also discovered and confiscated from the vehicles, parts of frogs, Manchurian wapitis, and sika deer.
The Center’s director, Sergei Aramilev, said that “One of the largest routes of illegal transportation of endangered animal parts to China has been uncovered.”
The statement comes 11 days after officials in Zabaikalye, another region that borders China, said that 27 bear paws were found on a freight train headed for China.
Parts of bears, Amur tigers, and other rare animals are prized in China for their perceived medicinal value, but their sale is illegal as they are officially protected species in China and Russia.