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China Arrests 3 in Panda Poaching

October 26, 2001

BEIJING (AP) _ Chinese police have arrested three men accused of poaching rare giant pandas and trying to sell the animals’ pelts, official media reported Friday.

Police seized Jiang Wencai and two accomplices after an undercover officer arranged to buy a pelt of the endangered animal for about $93,000, the official Xinhua News Agency and state television reported.

Two pelts were found at a hotel in Tongliang county outside the southwestern city of Chongqing, the reports said.

Chinese Central Television showed footage of plainclothes officers holding up a pair of dirty and poorly preserved panda pelts. It said Jiang and accomplices Mu Shiyong and Mu Chaofu admitted trapping and killing the pandas last year.

China considers the panda a national treasure and panda poachers are often executed. Poaching and destruction of the panda’s forest habitat have made the animals among the world’s rarest, with only about 1,000 left in the wild.

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