213 Smuggled Bear Paws Intercepted At Chinese Border (VIDEO)

Chinese border officials were in for quite the surprise when they discovered some unusual cargo on transport from Russia: 213 smuggled bear paws.

Hidden inside the tires of a truck that was attempting to cross the border from Russia into Inner Mongolia, the load is reportedly the highest number of bear paws that has ever attempted to be smuggled into China.

Customs officials reported that local police arrested two Russian men in connection with the transport of the cargo estimated to be worth 2.8 million yuan (nearly $457,000), Reuters reports.

According to The Global Times, Chinese authorities discovered the large haul in late May. The truck's driver appeared to act suspiciously so Manzhouli officials scanned the vehicle, revealing the concealed goods.

In video footage of the recovery (seen above), Chinese officers remove the bear paws, which range in size from adult to cub, from the vehicle's five tires, including the spare. The animal paws likely belong to brown bears, a protected species in China.

While the most recent attempt smuggle bear paws is unusual for the sheer amount, the incident is not all that uncommon.

Bear paws are in demand since they are believed to hold some medicinal value -- paws have been used as an alternative treatment for rheumatism -- and are also used as an ingredient in certain types of Chinese cuisine.

In a similar incident in 2009, a group of smugglers attempted to transport 173 bear paws out of China in the back of a truck.

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