HONG KONG – Hong Kong authorities said they seized 82.5 kilograms of rhino horn and cut pieces worth $2.10 million, the biggest haul in five years, as the Chinese controlled territory tries to tackle growing trafficking in endangered species.
The move comes after seizures by Hong Kong earlier this year of 40 kilograms of rhino horns, 8.3 tonnes of pangolin scales and more than 1000 ivory tusks.
Tragically this latest seizure of horn – which originated in South Africa – doesn’t help the rhino who have already been slaughtered, nor does it explain how South African authorities didn’t pick up such a large consignment. Oversight or deliberate?
Customs officials said in a statement on Saturday that they screened cargo from South Africa with Malaysia as its destination. The cargo was declared as “auto parts” but suspicious X-ray images were found over it.
Hong Kong is one of the world’s primary wildlife trafficking transit points, supplying an array of products including shark fins, tiger parts and rhino horn across Asia and into mainland China.
Much of the trade supplies the traditional Chinese medicine sector. Highly valued rhino horn for instance is believed to treat issues from cancer to clearing toxins and curing hangovers.
The traditional Chinese medicine industry accounts for more than three quarters of the trade in endangered wildlife products in Hong Kong over the past five years, conservation group ADM Capital Foundation said in a recent report.
(Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman/Reuters and Jenni Baxter/SAPeople)