Sars seizes 160kg haul of rhino horns
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DURBAN - THE South African Revenue Service (Sars) has swooped on rhino horns at OR Tambo International Airport. It is the fifth bust in a year.
These seizures took place between July last year and this month.
Excluding the latest seizure, the rhino horns are worth more than R234 million.
“Customs officers of Sars seized 32 pieces of rhino horn, weighing 160kg, at a cargo transit shed at the OR Tambo International Airport on Saturday,” a Sars official said.
The officers were conducting manifest profiling with the Detector Dog Unit at the airport when one of the dogs identified a suspicious shipment destined for Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.
“The shipment was declared as ‘live plants’ and consisted of eight pieces. During the inspection, six boxes were found containing traditional material concealing 32 pieces of rhino horn protected with bubble wrap. They weighed 160kg.”
The Hawks were alerted and a criminal case was registered with the SAPS.
This seizure weighed more than the other four, with the second-highest being the first seizure in July last year – 41 pieces weighing 137kg and valued at R115 668 828.
Police had not commented by the time of publication.
Recent rhino horn busts at the airport included:
• February 4 this year: 18 pieces of rhino horn, weighing 63kg and valued at R53 172 000. They were declared as “HP Cartridges Developers” and bound for Malaysia.
• December 14 last year: 17 pieces of rhino horn weighing 72.4kg and valued at R61 137 778 were concealed in a geyser bound for Malaysia.
• September 30 last year: Six pieces, weighing 4.9kg and valued at R4 135 600. They were declared as “coffee beans” and bound for Malaysia.
• July 14 last year: 41 pieces, weighing 137kg and valued at R115 668 828. They were declared as “fine arts” and bound for Malaysia.
According to Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife statistics, at least 41 rhinos have been poached since the start of the year.
The DA’s Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs spokesperson in KZN, Heinz de Boer, said the value of the rhino horn was determined in international markets.
“I think the worth is not in monetary value. It’s rather a fact that we’re losing animals. The real value to us as a society and us as a province is the animals we have lost and that are irreplaceable because we have a diminishing gene pool in the rhino population.”
“Almost the last rhinos we have are here in South Africa and one or two pockets in other parts of Africa.”