Dubai-bound rhino horns worth AED6-million seized at Johannesburg airport
South African police have confiscated at least 30 pieces of rhino horn at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg during a K9 sweep of several cargo warehouses where export consignments were packed to be shipped out to Dubai.
“The total weight of the horns was 116kg, at an approximate value of R2-million. The street value of these horns is assumed to be much higher,” South African Revenue Services' Sicelo Mkosi said in a statement.
Lieutenant Colonel Katlego Mogale confirmed to local media that a K9 detector dog had reacted positively to a shipment destined for the Middle East.
“Upon physical examination the consignment was found to be containing door mats as well as cut and laminated ply wood,” he said. “Further examination revealed over 30 pieces of rhino horn wrapped in plastic [and] concealed under the laminated wood pieces.”
The shipment of rhino horns, while not illegal, is heavily regulated in the developed world, as well as South Africa, where most illegal rhino horns originate, and Dubai, a major air cargo transhipment hub.
Rhino poaching has escalated in recent years and is being driven by the demand for rhino horn in Asian countries. South Africa enhanced its enforcement interventions on outbound flights at the cargo area of OR Tambo International Airport after the UAE government indicated reports of rhino horn detected to have come from southern Africa.
Until April, 2017, South Africa had a blanket ban on the shipment of all rhino horns, now it allows only those proven to have been harvested sustainably.
“The multi-disciplinary team at OR Tambo International Airport, which comprises various government departments including the South African Police Service, customs and excise, ACSA (Airports Company South Africa) security and other stakeholders are on alert and continue to work tirelessly to stop contraband including rhino horns from being smuggled through this port of entry,” said Mogale.