SA wants to test seized rhino horns
Johannesburg - A South African delegation was seeking permission to visit Hong Kong to take DNA samples from seized rhino horns, environment officials said on Wednesday.
"Officials from the department of environmental affairs have already informed their counterparts in China that they would like to co-operate with them on the seizure," said spokesperson Albi Modise.
"The matter has already been reported to Interpol [the International Criminal Police Organisation]."
On Tuesday, international news agencies reported that customs officials in Hong Kong had seized 33 rhino horns in a shipping container from South Africa the previous day.
DNA tests on the horns would help establish where the horns had come from and whether they were removed illegally, Modise said.
Proposed new legislation would make the collection of DNA samples from rhino horns compulsory when a rhino was darted for any reason.
This would expand the rhino DNA database so that all South African horns could be identified and help secure criminal prosecutions for illegal rhino horn trade.
Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa and her Chinese counterpart Shengxian Zhou met in Johannessburg in July.
They agreed to work together on issues related to wildlife trafficking, Modise said.
"The number of rhinos poached since January 2011 now stands at 366 and 199 suspected rhino poachers have been arrested this year," he said.