Horns shipped from Cape seized in HK

2011-11-15 21:21

Hong Kong - Hong Kong customs officers have seized a record haul of 33 rhino horns along with ivory chopsticks and bracelets hidden inside a container shipped from South Africa, officials said on Tuesday.

Officers found the horns along with 758 ivory chopsticks and 127 ivory bracelets in a haul worth a total of about R18m during a search Monday of a container declared as containing "scrap plastic".

Senior Customs official Lam Tak-fai told RTHK radio the horns were carefully wrapped in multiple layers of materials and hidden in the rear of the container.

"We think the smugglers wanted to make it look like waste plastic material so as to evade customs detection," he said, adding the haul was believed to have been destined for a neighbouring country.

Lam said rhino horns had been seized in Hong Kong in the past but never in such large quantities.

"Altogether we have 86.54kg of rhino horns, it's a record seizure so far in customs history," he said.

Conservation group WWF said earlier this month that rhino poaching in South Africa had hit a record high, with 341 of the animals lost to poachers so far this year as black-market demand for their horns soars.

Officials blame the poaching surge on organised crime syndicates selling rhino horn for use in Asian medicinal treatments - especially in Vietnam, where it is believed to cure cancer.

The UN wildlife trade regulator has called for stiffer penalties for poachers, with the price of a rhino horn per kilo fetching around R404 000.

Under Hong Kong law, anyone found guilty of importing endangered species for commercial purposes is liable to a maximum fine of HK$5m and two years' imprisonment.

No one has been arrested so far and Lam said the investigation was continuing.

  • Nico - 2011-11-15 22:34

    Absolutely the BEST news for today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      jfarway! - 2011-11-16 08:52

      Definitely! But what is truly sad is the amount of Rhino lives lost in this. :((

  • Burtfred - 2011-11-15 22:51

    Well done Hong Kong. What a fantastic, friendly, organised city. Visit the place, it is a revelation to the average South African.

  • Mabs - 2011-11-15 22:56

    Oh yes!!! Highlight of the month! Now catch the king pins.

      John - 2012-03-28 02:39

      Look no further than SANParks, that's where the trail begins. Poison the horns already!!!

  • Francois - 2011-11-16 05:58

    What is News24 thinking? This is like advertising a great drug bust, it does not stop the criminal activity, it just drives up the prices for the illegal merchandise in this case rhino horn which will actually provide more incentive for the syndicates or poachers. If you want to give us the feel good feeling, rather report on the prison sentences without stating the actual value or number of horns seized.

  • Guy - 2011-11-16 08:51

    I would have prefered that once they had found the stash, to lock the container up, track it, and bust these b@stards... This haul really means nothing if it doesnt lead to arrests and the breaking up of these syndicates...

      Itumeleng - 2011-12-19 08:09

      strongly agree, somebody in S.A. must leave comfort zone and do his JOB

      John - 2012-03-28 02:43

      Don't underestimate the HK Police, they're a very sharp unit. I bet they are working on it frantically.

  • Itumeleng - 2011-12-19 08:06

    shame to South African smugling surveillance you are out-smarted, PULL UP YOUR SOCKS, you were supposed to have sported that because it originated from S.A. you are a disgrace

      John - 2012-03-28 02:45

      I'm glad the HK Police have them, our lot would be wondering how they could cash in. Useless prats.

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