South African Police Seize 10 Rhino Horns, Arrest Vietnamese Man

Rhino horns
Asian migrants are fueling the trade in rare species

Police in Gauteng, South Africa have arrested a Vietnamese man suspected of being in illegal possession of 10 rhino horns, one elephant tusk and cash with a total value of nearly R25m, an official said on Wednesday.

South Africa, home to the most rhinos in the world, has been losing almost two of the threatened animals a day to poachers who sell the horns in China and South-East Asia for use by the affluent as a traditional medicine ingredient. So far this year, at least 210 rhinos have been killed in the country.

“There was a tip-off that we acted on speedily in fear that the suspect may try to dispose of incriminating items,” South African Police Service spokesman Col Vishnu Naidoo said.

The man, who has yet to be identified, is expected to appear in court on Thursday. He was arrested on Tuesday night in a Johannesburg-area apartment and the suspected contraband was seized.

Despite evidence showing rhino horns are useless as medicine, their street price among Asian consumers is higher than the price of gold.