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Chinese customs seize 645 wolf skins from Greece

Pelts arrived on July 29 flight from Athens

The 645 wolf skins were concealed in bags that were labelled 'fur scraps'. It is not clear if the skins are from Greece's indigenous wolf population, which is estimated to number 500-700 animals

Customs officers check wolf skins at Beijing Capital International Airport, 8 August 2013 (Reuters) Customs officers check wolf skins at Beijing Capital International Airport, 8 August 2013 (Reuters) Customs officials in China on Thursday seized almost 650 pieces of wolf skins that arrived on a flight from Greece last month.

The pelts, which cover a total area of 200m2 when spread out, were imported into China on July 29 on a flight from Greece to Beijing Capital International Airport, officials said, describing the haul as the biggest case of suspected smuggling of skins of endangered wild animals in China in over a decade.

According to Chinese media, the goods were packed into 30 sacks, each of which was labelled "fur scraps". The accompanying documentation stated that the total weight of the freight was 1,400kg and was valued at $3,700.

But as that represented a price of $3 per kilo – well below the average market price for fur scraps – customs officials became suspicious and decided to carry out on inspection.

Customs officers check wolf skins at Beijing Capital International Airport, 8 August 2013 (Reuters) Customs officers check wolf skins at Beijing Capital International Airport, 8 August 2013 (Reuters) After x-raying the consignment, officials opened the bags to find up to twenty pelts in each sack concealed beneath fur scraps on top.

The seized skins are mostly brown in colour but there are also black- and grey-haired pelts.

A trading firm in Beijing is suspected of smuggling the wolf skins and arrests have been made, customs officials told the media. They estimate that the market value of the skins could be in the region of 1m yuan (€125,000) or more.

It is not clear if the skins are from Greece's indigenous wolf population, which is estimated to number 500-700 animals, or were imported from elsewhere.

How the story was reported in Friday's issue of the Beijing Daily (EnetEnglish) How the story was reported in Friday's issue of the Beijing Daily (EnetEnglish)

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