EnetEnglish.gr, 12:00 Friday 9 August 2013
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
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.
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.