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Police Tusk Forces Mammoth Haul

When police in Russia's remote Amur region say they've made a mammoth haul, they're not just boasting.

Police in the country's far east have seized more than half a ton of prehistoric mammoth tusks due to be smuggled over the border for use in traditional Chinese medicine.

The 71 tusks - weighing in at 1,320 pounds and said to be worth 70,000 GBP - were discovered in a warehouse in the border city Blagoveschensk, say police.

The region's extreme frozen environment causes perfect conditions for the preservation of fossils, including 90 per cent of all preserved mammoths found on the planet.

Three men have been arrested, say prosecutors.

"We are trying to establish how these tusks were obtained, where from, and whether they are legally held by the men who were in possession of them," said a police spokesman.

Investigators believe traffickers may have turned to smuggling mammoth tusks because the international crackdown on elephant ivory and rhino horn now makes it difficult to obtain.

"It would be a great tragedy if the reserves of these prehistoric treasures were squandered in this way," said one.

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