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China detains Russians suspected of smuggling 213 bear paws

China has detained two Russian men on suspicions of trying to smuggle 213 bear paws into the country.

Customs officials made the discovery in the northern Inner Mongolia region in May, but released details about the case Tuesday, The Sun reports.

The paws – which are believed to be from brown bears -- were found hidden inside the wheels of the van and spare tires.

Sales of bear body parts are banned in China, but they are viewed by the Chinese as a rare ingredient for food, or an expensive present.

"Bear farms in China exacerbate the situation as they also sell paws illegally, which stimulates the growing trade," Zhang Xiaohai, an official with Animals Asia Foundation, told The Sun.

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