20 rhino horns worth S$1.2m seized at Changi Airport

Multiple rhinoceros horns seized yesterday. Photo: NParks
Multiple rhinoceros horns seized yesterday. Photo: NParks

Illegal trade of endangered animal parts in Singapore is sadly still apparent in its latest seizure yesterday.

The National Parks Board last night said airport security seized 20 pieces of horns worth about S$1.2 million passing through Changi Airport to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic from South Africa. The 34kg rhino haul is the largest to date in Singapore. 

Trading of rhino horns is illegal as the animal is protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The board said they are identifying the species of the rhinoceros and the haul would be destroyed so that they won’t be reintroduced and traded in the market.

Rhino horns are known to be used in Traditional Chinese Medicine mainly to treat heatiness and detox.

Minister for National Development Desmond Lee added last night that the owner has been arrested and investigations are currently ongoing.

Singapore has “zero-tolerance” over the illegal trade of endangered wildlife species, he said.

“… illegal poaching has adversely affected rhinoceros populations. This sad haul is testament to this,” he wrote.

Both the board and Lee urged citizens to not get involved in purchasing or using any illegally traded wildlife parts.

After this story was published, the South African man responsible for bringing the horns in from Johannesburg, South Africa was charged.

Gumede Sthembiso Joel, 32, did not have any valid permits to do so.

If found guilty under the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act, he could be fined up to S$500,000 and jailed for up to two years.

Joel will be back in court on Oct. 27.

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