File picture: Supplied
Maputo - Mozambican police on Monday announced the seizure of 10.5kg of rhinoceros horn at Maputo International Airport.

Orlando Mudumane, spokesperson for the Maputo City Police command, said the horns were hidden in an aluminium case, but were discovered by the airport police and customs authorities during check-in.

He did not say what flight the rhino horn traffickers planned to use, or what the final destination of the case was.

The police have not yet been able to identify the owner of the case.

“The individual fled when he realised the police had seized the case,” said Mudumane. “Investigations are under way to discover who owns it.”

The seizure comes a week after the Malaysian authorities at Kuala Lumpur airport seized 18 rhino horns, weighing 51.4kg, which had come from Mozambique via Doha, on flights of Qatar Airways. These horns were packed in a crate listed as containing “works of art”, and destined for an address in Malaysia which turned out to be false.

This seizure was highly embarrassing for the Mozambican authorities since all items loaded on to flights departing from Maputo are supposed to pass through electronic scanners, which should have picked up18 rhino horns.

The police say they are investigating how such a large shipment could have been loaded on to the Qatar Airways plane.

Since both species of African rhino, the black and the white, are believed to be extinct in southern Mozambique, the 18 horns seized in Kuala Lumpur, and the 10.5kg seized in Maputo, most probably came from rhino poached across the border in South Africa.

The seizures are further proof that traffickers in rhino horn are using Mozambique as a transit route to the lucrative Asian market.

Independent Foreign Service