Vietnam customs officers seize 1.5 kilos of rhino horn shipped on flight from Africa

By Quoc Thang   May 8, 2017 | 07:50 pm GMT+7
Vietnam customs officers seize 1.5 kilos of rhino horn shipped on flight from Africa
Three pieces of rhino horn found carried by a Vietnamese in a flight from Africa. Photo courtesy of Ho Chi Minh City Customs

The hidden shipment was identified as black rhino horn from the critically endangered species native to eastern and southern Africa.

Customs officers at Ho Chi Minh City's main airport seized 1.5 kilograms (3.3 pounds) of rhino horn hidden in the luggage of a man arriving on a flight from Africa on Monday.

The 20-year-old Vietnamese man was detained upon landing at Tan Son Nhat International Airport, and three pieces of rhino horn were found wrapped in aluminum foil and hidden in toy drums in his luggage, the officers said.

The contraband was identified as black rhino horn from the critically endangered species native to eastern and southern Africa. Three of its subspecies were declared extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2011.

The pieces could have fetched VND2 billion (nearly $90,000) on the black market, they said.

Tan Son Nhat officials also seized 5 kilograms of rhino horn last month from two Vietnamese passengers flying in from Africa.

Last week, they arrested a Vietnamese woman carrying 4 kilograms of elephant ivory jewelry and 200 grams of ground pangolin scales on a flight from Angola.

Vietnam is considered a hotspot for the illegal trade of wildlife products, including ivory, rhino horn, tiger parts and pangolins. They are often considered a status symbol and are used for decorations and medicine, despite the lack of scientific proof of their medicinal properties.

Vietnamese laws prohibit the hunting, killing, trade or transportation of wild animals, but the high returns continue to lure many people into trafficking networks.