Archives For Rhino horn

Malaysia Rhino Horn Bust

Malaysia has made a record seizure of 50 rhino horns worth an estimated $12 million at Kuala Lumpur airport as they were being flown to Vietnam, authorities said Monday.

Customs officials found the parts in cardboard boxes on August 13 in the cargo terminal of the capital’s airport, said Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim, head of Malaysia’s wildlife department.

The 50 rhino horns weighed 116 kilogrammes (256 pounds) and are worth about 50 million ringgit ($12 million), he told AFP, adding that the seizure was “the biggest ever in (Malaysia’s) history in terms of the number of horns and value”.

Vietnam is a hot market for rhino horn, which is believed to have medicinal properties and is in high demand among the communist nation’s growing middle class.

Trade in rhino horn was banned globally in 1977 by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), but illegal hunters have decimated rhino populations to sate rampant demand in East Asia.

A single kilo of rhino horn can fetch tens of thousands of dollars in the region, where many falsely believe it can cure cancer.

All rhino species are under threat of extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Abdul Kadir said authorities were unable to identify the origin of the animal parts. Rhino horn sent to Asia typically comes from Africa.

Officials also found a huge stash of animal bones—believed to be from tigers and leopards—in the same shipment, with an estimated value of 500,000 ringgit.

Authorities have not made any arrests over the seizures.

Elizabeth John, from wildlife trade watchdog Traffic, described the rhino horn seizure as “staggering” and urged authorities to track down the people behind the smuggling attempt.

Kuala Lumpur is a hub for cheap flights around Southeast Asia, and has become a key transit point in the smuggling of rare animal parts.

Source: AFP, 20 August 2018

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Vietnam Ivory Seizure

Customs officers in Vietnam seized more than two tons of elephant tusks, eight days after confiscating an ivory shipment weighing nearly a ton, authorities said. Picture: Pornchai Kittiwongsakul

Customs officers in Vietnam seized more than two tons of elephant tusks, eight days after confiscating an ivory shipment weighing nearly a ton, authorities said on Monday.

The estimated 4.4 million dollars worth of ivory was disguised as logs and hidden within a shipment of timber from Nigeria.

The cargo was posted to the same company listed as the receiver for nearly a ton of elephant tusks and rhinoceros horn from Mozambique that was discovered on August 13, said Ho Xuan Tam, Da Nang Customs Department spokesman.

Company officials have denied wrongdoing.

The poaching of elephants and rhinoceros and the trafficking of their tusks and horns are outlawed under international efforts to protect endangered species. But the illicit trade from Africa to Asia has grown with rising prosperity creating demand in Vietnam and China.

While elephant ivory is valued for its aesthetic appeal, folk superstitions prize rhino horn for its supposed medicinal and aphrodisiac qualities.

A single gram of ground rhino horn possesses a street value of 133 dollars. Rhino killings reached a record 1 215 last year, 10 times the number killed in 2009, according to the conservation group WildAid. Source: IOL

Biggest bust of Rhino Horn at a South African airportSARS Customs officers at OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) last week intercepted over 41kg of rhino horns – with a total value of over R4.5 million – transiting through the airport. This is the biggest ever seizure of rhino horn by the SARS Customs team at OR Tambo International, Johannesburg.

As a result of profiling two foreign nationals travelling from Maputo to Vietnam via Johannesburg,  their baggage was intercepted during a stop-over at ORTIA. A Customs detector dog “Mimmo” reacted positively to two bags. The tags found on the bags also did not correspond to the tags presented to Customs officials during the initial questioning of the passengers. This is a practice commonly found with narcotics smuggling syndicates.

The bags had a strong garlic and glue smell, (a tactic to distract detector dogs). Further to the plastic wrapped horns, the zips of the bags were also glued in an effort to keep the odour intact and to make the inspection difficult. Subsequent physical inspection of the bags by Customs officials revealed the rhino horn allegedly being smuggled by the two travellers. Source: SARS

RhinoA new report released by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) partner TRAFFIC reveals that illegal rhino horn trade has reached the highest levels since the early 1990s, and illegal trade in ivory increased by nearly 300 percent from 1998 to 2011.

The report, Illegal trade in ivory and rhino horn: an assessment to improve law enforcement, is a key step to achieving USAID’s vision to adapt and deploy a range of development tools and interventions to significantly reduce illegal wildlife trafficking, USAID said in a September 22 press release. The report was prepared by the wildlife monitoring network TRAFFIC in partnership with USAID. The assessment uses robust analysis to identify capacity gaps and key intervention points in countries combating wildlife trafficking.

Seizure data indicate that “the fundamental trade dynamic now lies between Africa and Asia,” according to the report. In China and Thailand, elephant ivory is fashioned into jewellery and carved into other decorative items, while wealthy consumers in Vietnam use rhino horn as a drug that they mistakenly believe cures hangovers and detoxifies the body.

Rhinos and elephants are under serious poaching pressure throughout Africa, with even previously safe populations collapsing. Central Africa’s forest elephants have been reduced by an estimated 76 percent over the past 12 years, while in Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve elephant numbers have fallen from 70,000 in 2007 to only 13,000 by late 2013. A record 1,004 rhinos were poached in 2013 in South Africa alone, a stark contrast to the 13 animals poached there in 2007 before the latest crisis began.

Record quantities of ivory were seized worldwide between 2011 and 2013, with an alarming increase in the frequency of large-scale ivory seizures (500 kg or more) since 2000. Preliminary data already show more large-scale ivory seizures in 2013 than in the previous 25 years. Although incomplete, 2013 raw data already represent the greatest quantity of ivory in these seizures in more than 25 years.

Both rhino horn and ivory trafficking are believed to function as Asian-run, African-based operations, with the syndicates increasingly relying on sophisticated technology to run their operations. In order to disrupt and apprehend the individuals behind them, the global response needs to be equally sophisticated, USAID said.

“There’s no single solution to addressing the poaching crisis in Africa, and while the criminals master-minding and profiting from the trafficking have gotten smarter, so too must enforcement agencies, who need to improve collaborative efforts in order to disrupt the criminal syndicates involved in this illicit trade,” says Nick Ahlers, the leader of the Wildlife Trafficking, Response, Assessment and Priority Setting (Wildlife-TRAPS) Project.

The USAID-funded Wildlife-TRAPS Project seeks to transform the level of cooperation among those affected by illegal wildlife trade between Africa and Asia.

Rhino horn is often smuggled by air, using international airports as transit points between source countries in Africa and demand countries in Asia. Since 2009, the majority of ivory shipments have involved African seaports, increasingly coming out of East Africa. As fewer than 5 percent of export containers are examined in seaports, wildlife law enforcement relies greatly on gathering and acting on intelligence to detect illegal ivory shipments.

The report recommends further developing coordinated, specialized intelligence units to disrupt organized criminal networks by identifying key individuals and financial flows and making more high-level arrests. Also critically important are improved training, law enforcement technology, and monitoring judiciary processes at key locations in Africa and Asia.

The full text of the report (PDF, 1.6MB) is available on the USAID website. Source: USAID

With record levels of global ivory seizures in 2013, mostly in ports, a new Interpol report highlights the need for greater information sharing to enable a more proactive and effective law enforcement response against trafficking syndicates.

Large-scale ivory shipments – each one representing the slaughter of hundreds of elephants – point to the involvement of organized crime networks operating across multiple countries. Head of Interpol’s Environmental Security unit, David Higgins, said while there was a global recognition of the problems of elephant poaching and ivory smuggling, a more integrated approach was needed for a more effective response.

“Ivory seizures are clearly an important step in stopping this illicit trade, but this is just one part of a much bigger picture,” said Higgins. “If we are to target those individuals behind the killing of thousands of elephants every year, who are making millions at the cost of our wildlife with comparatively little risk, then we must address each and every stage of this criminal activity in a cohesive manner.

The report ‘Elephant Poaching and Ivory Trafficking in East Africa – Assessment for an effective law enforcement response’ was launched at the Canadian High Commissioner’s Residence in Nairobi, Kenya.

While poaching in Kenya has reduced due to more pressure by security agents on poachers, the country is being used as a transit route with the port of Mombasa becoming a favorite for poachers. The ivory is packaged in shipping containers for transport to the port, and interception of the majority of ivory has occurred in maritime ports with the loot hidden in shipment containers usually concealed by other lawful goods.

Uganda though a landlocked country is becoming a transit route for the ivory, mostly from Tanzania. Tanzania was the leading source of illegal ivory in the East African region last year. At the same time, the port of Mombasa accounted for the largest volume of seizures in Africa with a total of over 10 tonnes of illegal ivory intercepted between January and October 2013.

Approximately 30 elephants are killed in Tanzania daily amounting to more than 10,000 animals annually. An estimated 22,000 elephants were killed illegally continent wide in 2012.

Tanzania’s elephant population has continued to plummet in recent years and in Selous Game reserve which boasted the world second largest elephant population at 70,000 elephants in 2006, the numbers have fallen to an estimated 39,000 elephants in 2009 and currently stand at 13,084 elephants.

There is global concern about the problem. The Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference, held in London this month, agreed key actions to stamp out the illegal wildlife trade. During the conference, chaired by Foreign Secretary William Hague and attended by the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, world leaders from over forty nations vowed to help save iconic species from the brink of extinction.

The London Declaration contains commitments for practical steps to end the illegal trade in rhino horn, tiger parts and elephant tusks that fuels criminal activity worth over $19 billion each year.

Key states, including Botswana, Chad, China, Gabon, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Tanzania, and Vietnam, along with the US and Russia, have signed up to actions that will help eradicate the demand for wildlife products, strengthen law enforcement, and support the development of sustainable livelihoods for communities affected by wildlife crime. Continue Reading…

According to the latest data from South Africa’s department of environmental affairs (20 June 2012), the total number of rhinos poached  since the beginning of this year now stands at 251 with the number of arrests at 170.

The North-West, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo provinces continue to be targeted by poachers, collectively accounting for 86 of the total rhinos poached this year. The Kruger National Park, alone, has lost a total of 149 rhinos since the beginning of this year.  At this rate the carnage will almost certainly exceed the 448 slain last year.

Thus far, a total of 170 arrests have been made of which 147 of the arrested were poachers, 10 receivers or couriers, six couriers or buyers and seven exporters.

Elephant and rhino poaching is surging, conservationists say, an illegal part of Asia’s scramble for African resources, driven by the growing purchasing power of newly affluent Asians.

A film made by UNTV and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) can be seen on YouTube on this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3m7FOXOLbY. Rhino horn has long been used in traditional medicines in China and Vietnam and the film quotes a doctor at Hanoi’s biggest hospital who sings its praises. According to the film, rhino horns have also been stolen from museums and private collections in more than 15 countries. Source: DoEA

South Africa is considering whether to approach the international community with a proposal to trade in rhino horn, Environment Minister Edna Molewa told MPs on Wednesday. Opening debate in the National Assembly on her department’s budget, she said this included engaging “major role players, including international and regional partners [and] potential consumer states”.

Molewa’s remarks come 10 months ahead of the 16th congress of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), set to take place in Bangkok, Thailand, in March next year. According to reports, South Africa is sitting on an estimated 20-ton stockpile of rhino horn; some of it in private hands, some stored by conservation authorities. The price of the horn, should the Cites moratorium on trade be lifted, has been estimated at more than R500,000 a kilogram.

Molewa has declined to say how much rhino horn is held by government-managed parks and reserves.”Due to security risks, the department cannot publicly announce the amount of stocks being held by these agencies”. On Wednesday, she said her department was involved in an “extensive” preparatory process ahead of the Cites congress.

“This will include discussions on whether or not to approach the international community with a proposal to trade in rhino horn.” On the rhino poaching crisis in South Africa, Molewa said 199 rhino had been killed so far this year. “We are very, very deeply concerned,” she told the House. Earlier, briefing journalists at Parliament, Molewa said South Africa would not table a document at the next Cites meeting calling for the rhino horn trade moratorium to be lifted.

“No, not this time around. We are still considering all options, as well as probabilities towards that direction. We have not decided yet. Let it be clear. “We are still doing some very serious work in analysing whether we need to move in that direction or not.”

Among the things that needed to be done before trade could be resumed was “to ensure we get to know who the partners are on the other side”.Policies had to be in place “that do not allow any shenanigans to operate in the system,” Molewa said. “There are just too many things to do before we can place the discussion before the conference of parties. We are not yet there.”

Hmmmm! Would seem that the temptation for monetary profit is so compelling – R500,000/kg. Given the frequent outbursts at incidence of poaching and the horror pictures which normally accompany such reports how about burning the rhino horn reserves? That will send a clear message on government’s concern and intent.There exists a similar parallel where the importation of second-hand motor vehicles are banned in South Africa, but condoned because certain neighbouring countries want them. The old adage – ‘laws are meant to be broken’ comes to mind.  Source: SAPA