Major Seizure of Rhino Horns at Malaysia Airport

Malaysian customs officials at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport have seized 18 rhino horns which were imported from Mozambique, via Doha in Qatar.

Despite it being welcome news that the rhino horn have been confiscated, it is tragic that each one represents a dead rhino, killed most likely in South Africa.

Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage’s Karen Trendler tweeted: “Will be better news when horns are still on rhino and seizures followed by convictions.”

The horns weigh 51.5 kg and are worth $3.1 million, according to a statement from Hamzah Sundang, Airport Customs Director.

He disclosed that the law enforcement officials had received a tip-off… which led to them investigating a wooden crate which was meant to contain art objects, and which was destined for a false address in a southern state of Malaysia. The crate had been transported from Mozambique on a Qatar Airways plane.

Malaysia is often used as the gateway to Asia for ivory and rhino horn crime syndicates, although it is illegal to import rhino horns into the country without a licence. Last year Malaysia destroyed over 9 tonnes of ivory to send an anti-smuggling message to poachers.

The demand for rhino horn – in Asian countries like China and Vietnam – is driven by a false and ancient belief that the horn has medicinal values. It is also prized as a status symbol by the super wealthy (who should know better!).

South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs has been working with the Mozambique government to educate, rehouse and empower local communities to protect wildlife and not engage in poaching.