Chinese national caught with 5 rhino horns at OR Tambo International Airport

2017-09-11 22:15

Johannesburg - A Chinese national attempting to smuggle an illegal stash of five rhino horns was nabbed at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo Intertnational Airport on Friday, just two weeks after the world’s first online rhino horn auction was held in South Africa. 

The passenger and the contraband, said to be the most valuable commodity in the world, were bound for Hong Kong, according to police. 

The bust comes just over two weeks after rhino farmer and horn trader John Hume staged the world's first international rhino horn auction, an event which was mired in controversy.

While the source of the seized horns has not yet been confirmed, conservationists and legal experts warned the lifting of the domestic moratorium on rhino horn trade would lead to an explosion in international rhino horn smuggling.

Although the eight-year old domestic moratorium on rhino horn trade was finally lifted in April this year, it is still illegal to move rhino horn across international borders.

Reference number 

According to a set of photographs supplied by police, at least one of the horns was marked with a set of numbers that appear to reference a microchip number.

                       Rhino horns seized by police at OR Tambo International Airport. (SAPS) 

If a microchip was removed from the horn, a DNA profile test will have to be undertaken at the RHODIS VGL facility at Ondersterpoort to determine if the origin had ever been legally profiled by its owner.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said customs agents and police responded to information about a suspicious bag that was bound for Hong Kong.


In a separate incident on Saturday, a team of agents arrested a Brazilian passenger allegedly carrying drugs suspected to be cocaine. He was entering the country on a flight from Sao Paulo.

“A further search of the same aircraft was conducted and two socks containing "cocaine bullets" were found in different toilets. Preliminary tests also indicated that the substance is cocaine. No arrests have been made with regards to these drugs” he added.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  narcotics  |  crime  |  rhino poaching  |  poaching

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