TimesLIVE 24 May 2019

A man allegedly found with 22 rhino horns in his luggage at OR Tambo International Airport on Tuesday will stand trial for attempting to smuggle them from South Africa to the Far East, as well as possession.

The department of environmental affairs disclosed on Friday that the 38-year-old man is from Gauteng and that he had planned to travel to Vietnam via the United Arab Emirates.

Police said earlier this week that he had been arrested by the Hawks’ Serious Organised Crime Investigation Unit as part on an ongoing investigation into rhino horn smuggling.

Congratulating the Hawks, the department said that the elite unit’s investigation is part of the integrated strategic management of rhinoceros in South Africa. The government’s collaborative anti-poaching approach, which also involves the department of environmental affairs’ environmental management inspectorate, customs and excise officials, the police, the justice department and members of the defence force, has been implemented since 2014.

It has been legal to buy and sell rhino horn in South Africa since 2017, when the Private Rhino Owners’ Association (PROA) won a court case against the department of environmental affairs’ trading ban on a legal technicality. But there is a global ban on trading rhino horn, so it still cannot be sold to markets where there is demand, such as Vietnam and China.

* Members of the public wishing to report rhino poaching and environmental crimes can contact the department’s hotline on 0800 205 005  or call 10111.

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