Cops Bust Major Tiger Poaching Ring

Skeletons headed from India to Chinese medicine markets
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 6, 2007 5:15 AM CST
Cops Bust Major Tiger Poaching Ring
A Delhi Zoological park employee fills drinking water in the cage of the Royal Bengal Tiger in New Delhi. India's population of wild tigers, which wildlife experts have long warned is on the decline, is dramatically lower than previously believed. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup, file)   (Associated Press)

In a rare victory for embattled conservationists, police in northern India yesterday busted a major tiger poaching ring as the gang was negotiating a sale of three tiger pelts and skeletons, AP reports. The remains were believed to be headed to China, where tiger body parts are sold on the black market for medicine, a major factor in the decline of India's tiger population. 

A trader at the negotiations was offering $4,500 for each pelt and skeleton, a fortune to the villagers who kill the animals, officials said. He in turn could sell each purchase for  $50,000 in China. The Indian tiger population has dropped from 3,600 five years ago to some 1,500 today. (Read more tigers stories.)

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