Johannesburg - The Department of Environmental Affairs has on Wednesday welcomed the confiscation of rhino horn valued at an estimated R29 million by Hong Kong customs officials.
Department spokesperson Albi Modise said the 82.5 kilogrammes of rhino horn had allegedly been smuggled from South Africa in a shipment marked as vehicle parts and was destined for Malaysia when it was intercepted by the Hong Kong customs authorities at the Hong Kong International Airport, following a tip-off.
The rhino horn was discovered when the shipment was X-rayed.
Hong Kong customs have indicated that this is the single largest haul of endangered species products in five years. No arrests have yet been made.
"The Department of Environmental Affairs welcomes the interception of these rhino horns, particularly at a time when efforts to combat rhino poaching, and the illegal trade in rhino horn, are being stepped up through the government’s collaborative anti-poaching effort – the Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros Approach.
"However, it remains a concern that these consignments are not being detected and seized before they leave South Africa and a review of the measures in place to make such detections is urgently required in order to continue to adapt to the shifts in the modus operandi of the syndicates involved in this transnational crime.
"We are in contact with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation in Hong Kong so that DNA samples of the horns can be brought to South Africa to determine whether they are linked to any ongoing, or unsolved, poaching investigations."
Members of the public wishing to report rhino poaching and environmental crimes can contact the Department’s hotline on 0800 205 005 or call police on 10111.
African News Agency (ANA)