The authorities in China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region have reported that local law enforcement bodies have confiscated 450,000 smuggled and contaminated pieces of sheepskin since June last year. As a result, checks at border posts are to be tightened. China fears a spread of foot-and-mouth disease from Mongolia, according to the Xinhua news agency (China).

Mongolian herders had to endure one of the most severe winters on record, with temperatures as low as -50°C. It was feared that millions of yak and sheep died from the cold, after suffering a summer drought that left animals too weak and low on body fat to survive the cold. The UN said that as many as 6.6 million animals could have died by May – 21% of the nation’s livestock.