Czech police crack rhinoceros horn smuggling ring

Jul 23, 2013
A white rhinoceros in captivity at Sigean's zoo on April 23, 2013 in Sigean, France. Czech authorities say they have cracked an international gang smuggling horns of rare white rhinoceroses from South Africa to Asia, where they are prized in traditional medicine.

Czech authorities said Tuesday they had cracked an international gang smuggling horns of rare white rhinoceroses from South Africa to Asia, where they are prized in traditional medicine.

The gang sent registered Czech game hunters to South Africa to trophy hunt and legally repatriate to the Czech Republic. From there, the horns were to be sent on to unspecified Asian countries.

"Sixteen people have been charged, of whom 15 were taken into police custody. They face up to eight years behind bars," according to a Tuesday joint statement by Czech police, customs service and environmental authorities.

Customs officers seized 24 , worth an estimated 3.85 million euros ($ 5.1 million).

According to the same statement "each hunter was allowed to kill one rhinoceros at a local game farm" in South Africa. They brought the trophy horns into the European Union using falsified export licences, it said.

"Once back in the Czech Republic the hunters handed the horns over to the organisers of the smuggling operation who then intended to export them to Asia," Ales Hruby, customs service spokesman told reporters in Prague Tuesday.

Native to Southern Africa, white rhinoceroses were thought to be extinct in the late 19th century but around 100 were then discovered in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa, according to the WWF environmental group.

Classified as "near threatened," there are now an estimated 20,000 animals living in sanctuaries and game parks across the south of Africa.

Limited trophy hunting is permitted under the international Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Explore further: Pakistan releases smuggled turtles into the wild

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Vietnam, S.Africa target illegal rhino hunters

May 06, 2013

South Africa and Vietnam have agreed to exchange the names of registered hunters in a bid to stop rhino poachers who obtain hunting permits under false pretences, a spokesman said Monday.

Kenyan officials seize 1.5 tonnes of hidden ivory

Jul 03, 2013

Officials in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa seized almost one and a half tonnes of ivory hacked out of poached elephants, they said Wednesday, the latest in a series of seizures by Kenyan authorities.

Poaching pushing South African rhino towards edge

Mar 08, 2013

South Africa's white rhino population will begin to decline by 2016 if the current rate of poaching continues, authorities warned on Friday, following the killing of scores of the creatures this year.

Recommended for you

Pakistan releases smuggled turtles into the wild

50 minutes ago

Pakistani officials and environmentalists on Monday released some 200 rare turtles into the River Indus after the reptiles were retrieved from a southwestern Chinese town where they were seized by customs ...

Big science from small insects

5 hours ago

Anniversaries are often a time to look back. But after taking stock of the past, it can be just as important to look to the future.

Dwindling wind may tip predator-prey balance

Sep 19, 2014

Bent and tossed by the wind, a field of soybean plants presents a challenge for an Asian lady beetle on the hunt for aphids. But what if the air—and the soybeans—were still?

Asian stars enlisted to fight African rhino poaching

Sep 19, 2014

Increasingly desperate South African conversationists are turning to a multi-national team of "rhino ambassadors" to try to end the scourge of poaching—and Vietnamese pop diva Hong Nhung has been recruited ...

User comments : 0