According to The New York Times, the haul is worth HKUS$16.5m (R29m) and is believed to be the biggest in five years. Authorities seized about 82.5 kg of rhino horn cut into pieces.
No arrests have been made as yet. However, according to a senior customs source, they believe no local offenders are involved in this smuggling operation.
Officials have been monitoring ivory smuggling trends since 40 kg of rhino horns, 8.3 tonnes of pangolin scales and more than 1 000 ivory tusks were seized back in February.
Market for rhino horn in Asia
Rhino horn is highly sought after in the traditional Chinese medicine sector. The horn is believed to treat issues ranging from cancer to curing hangovers to clearing toxins.
— BREAKING: Hong Kong Customs seize record haul of rhino horns on a flight from SA —
Article below, but the rhino horns & body parts were smuggled out as auto parts… why are South African authorities not catching this at the source???https://t.co/ZDAdab7Bp7 pic.twitter.com/SFMFzF7Q9F
— STROOP – journey into the rhino horn war (@STROOP_film) April 6, 2019
An unnamed customs official told the South China Morning Post:
“South Africa is home to most of the world’s rhino population and therefore, is a common source of smuggled rhino horns.”
The horns are sold on the black market and rakes in enormous profits. In some instances, it is even valued more than gold.
Rhino poaching statistics
According to a 2018 report, rhino poaching in South Africa decreased but hundreds of rhino are still slaughtered every year, and the ivory shipped internationally.
Between January and August 2018, more than 500 rhinos were poached. It was a 26% drop from the nearly 700 rhino poached during January and August in 2017.
The figures have been dropping since 2014 – when more than 1 200 rhinos where poached. Reasons for the decline was thought to be a mobile radar system used to detect poaching activity.
Poaching is rampant through most of Africa, and severe measures are needed to guard against extinction. In order to combat poaching in Africa, the Guardian Project