Hong Kong Returns Record Rhino Horns Consignment To South Africa
Hong Kong has returned the largest consignment of rhino horns ever seized to date, worth $2.3 million on the black market, to South Africa after two year of negotiation.
Speaking at a press briefing at OR Tambo International Airport, where the horns arrived along with 758 ivory chopsticks and 127 ivory bracelets, Col Johan Jooste of the Hawks said the return of the items would allow for DNA analysis that may lead to the arrest and prosecution of poachers, BDLive reported.
“In 2011, a consignment of rhino horn was seized in Hong Kong,” he said. “We are building relationships with Hong Kong to assist in the fight against (rhino horn) trading and we hope that with forensic investigation there might be prosecution either here or there in Hong Kong.”
Fundisile Mketeni, deputy director-general for biodiversity at the Department of Environmental Affairs, said the return of the consignment augured well for a “constructive” relationship with Hong Kong.
So far this year, 891 rhinos have already been poached in South Africa for their horns, up from 668 last year. Since January, 310 suspected poachers and three alleged couriers have been arrested.
Col Jooste said an investigation revealed the 33 horns were cut at growth points, suggesting they were obtained from rhinos that had been killed.
“The ivory items we found also suggest that they were mass-produced by utilizing sophisticated machinery,” he said.