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South African Rhino Horn Worth $15-million Seized in Singapore

Authorities in Singapore have made their largest-ever seizure of rhino horn, confiscated from a smuggler arriving from South Africa, according to News24.com. The haul is reportedly worth $830,000 (around £735,471).

Authorities at Singapore Changi Airport uncovered 20 pieces of rhino horn weighing 34 kilograms (75 lb). The two bags containing the horn were detected by sniffer dogs, and belonged to a passenger continuing onward to Laos. The suspect has been arrested. 

Rhinos are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). International trade in rhino horn is illegal. Genetic testing will be carried out on the confiscated horn to determine the exact species of rhino, after which it will be destroyed to prevent it entering the black market. 

Image: Singapore National Parks Board

In many parts of Asia, rhino horn is considered a status symbol and is used to make jewellery, buttons, belt buckles and combs. Some falsely believe rhino horn to have medicinal properties and this has given rise to the relentless slaughter of the species. 

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), poaching remains a severe threat to the species. Three species of rhino – the black, Javan and Sumatran – are listed as critically endangered. 

“We applaud the effective work of the Singaporean authorities in detecting and seizing this consignment of rhino horn,” said David Barritt, executive director of Animal Survival International (ASI). “The nations of the world, and in particular those situated on well-known illegal trade routes, must work together to stop poachers at borders and apprehend them. The more regularly and efficiently this happens, the more we send a message to poachers that this slaughter will not be permitted, and we can begin to put an end to this horrendous scourge.”

The IUCN says more than 2,700 rhinos were slaughtered in Africa between 2018 and 2021 – 90% of which were killed in South Africa, home to nearly 80% of the world’s rhino population. Most were killed in the Kruger National Park.

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