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Shocking video shows more than 1,200 pieces of alligator skin laid on a sports ground in China

An appalling video has shown 1,213 pieces of alligator skin spread out on a basketball court after they were seized by police from smugglers in China.

Two Chinese citizens have been detained yesterday after local police found the haul hidden inside a lorry together with watermelons.

The news came after Chinese lawmakers passed new legislation in February to ban all trade and consumption of wild animals amid the coronavirus epidemic.

Two unidentified men (pictured) were stopped by the border control officers yesterday in the south-western Chinese province Yunnan, according to an official statement

Shocking footage shows the alligator skin being laid out on a sports ground as the police confiscate the smuggled goods.

Two unidentified men were stopped by the border control officers yesterday in the south-western Chinese province Yunnan, according to an official statement.

The police found 12 bags of alligator skin hidden inside the white lorry, which was disguised to be transporting watermelons.

‘There are five colours of [skin in] black, brown, white, red, and orange,’ the statement read. ‘The biggest one is about 1.7 metres (5.6 feet), and the width is about 0.5 metres (1.6 feet).’

Local police said they will carry out further investigation and prosecute the suspects accordingly.

Police found 12 bags of alligator skin hidden inside a white lorry, which was disguised to be transporting watermelons. Picture shows one of the suspect standing at the basketball court

An appalling video has shown 1,213 pieces of alligator skin spread out on a basketball court after they were seized by police from smugglers in Yunnan Province of China yesterday

Yunnan Province, which borders with Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar, is one of China’s hotspots for transporting goods illegally.

More than 29,000 smuggling cases - worth a total value of 2.27billion yuan (£0.26billion) - were busted by Yunnan police in the past year, according to state media Xinhua.

The news comes as China has banned all trade and consumption of wildlife, a practice believed to be responsible for the country's deadly virus epidemic.

Last week, the southern Chinese city Shenzhen banned its residents from eating dog and cat meat with a groundbreaking new law in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Controversial 'wet markets' are now being widely discussed by conservationists, with wildlife groups writing to the WHO to urge for their worldwide closure in order to prevent pandemics

Animal activists have demanded the Chinese government prohibit the consumption of pets for years, and the new accord was the first of its kind in the country.

Meanwhile, more than 200 wildlife groups worldwide issued their call in an open letter to the World Health Organisation, saying it would stop future pandemics.

The evidence suggests COVID-19 has animal origins, most likely from bats, and may have come from a ‘wet market’ – where live and dead creatures are sold for eating – in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Other pandemics, including SARS and Ebola, have also been linked to viruses spreading from animals to people.

Animal activists have demanded the Chinese government prohibit the consumption of pets for years, and the new accord was the first of its kind in the country. A woman is pictured wearing a face mask as she shops at a fresh food market in Hong Kong on Sunday

Dr Mark Jones, head of policy at Born Free, one of the charities involved, said: ‘Once COVID-19 is behind us, returning to business as usual cannot be an option.

‘We need to dig deep and reset our fundamental relationship with the natural world, rethink our place in it and treat our planet and all its inhabitants with a great deal more respect, for its sake and for ours.’

Globally, more than 1.3million people have contracted the deadly contagion and at least 73,838 have died.

The evidence suggests COVID-19 has animal origins, most likely from bats, and may have come from a ‘wet market’ – where live and dead creatures are sold for eating – in the Chinese city of Wuhan. People are seen wearing face masks while walk on a street market in Wuhan

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