This is the fifth bust since March, with a total of 103 rhino horns having been confiscated.
For a poacher to obtain a rhino horn, they must sneak into a National Reserve or Park, shoot the unsuspecting animal, then hack off its horn while it bleeds out from the injuries. Though the process is as horrendous as it sounds, some are willing to go to such lengths because of the paycheck that awaits them when they ship the rhino horn to Asia, where many believe it has medicinal properties.
Fortunately, 18 rhino horns were intercepted at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia after officials inspected a crate labeled “artwork.” It turns out the poachers had attempted to disguise the illegal objects – and failed.
According to David Newton, a South African representative for TRAFFIC, the 18 rhino horns could represent eight dead rhinos, though this is just an estimate. He told The Dodo:
“There do seem to be many pairs of horns — large front, smaller back horn. Normally poachers remove both horns from the animals.”
#BreakingNews – Malaysia's Customs department have seized 18 #Rhino horns from Kuala Lumpur Airport:…
To decrease detection, the rhino horns had been cleaned and sanitized before they were shipped. Fortunately, they were confiscated before they could reach their destination.
As The Dodo reports, a bust such as this one is becoming far too common. Since the beginning of March, for instance, officials have seized over 103 rhino horns and horn pieces on five separate occasions. Despite being made of keratin, the same stuff as your nails, they are believed to have “magical” healing properties by many throughout Asia.
It is worth noting that busts such as this one will become more common, as South Africa recently made it legal to sell rhino horns within the country. However, because there is little to no demand for the horns in the south African nation, officials are likely to discover more horns as some attempt to transport them to Asia.
It is important activists raise awareness about the horrendous consequences of poaching. This is because, at the present rate, African rhinos may go extinct in ten years or less. Additionally, poachers have also become more brazen in their attempts to kill rhinos and steal their horns. Last month, armed men raided a rhino orphanage in South Africa, killing two rhinos for their horns. Additionally, sixteen rhino carcasses were found in just one month at the Kruger National Park in South Africa.
Cathy Liss, president of the Animal Welfare Institute, spoke for most when she stated:
“We commend the authorities in Malaysia for seizing these horns, but are disappointed no arrests have been made. This incident highlights the seriousness of the rhino poaching epidemic in Africa, as well as the need for all governments to collaborate in ending illegal wildlife trade. The market for rhino horn is devastating to the remaining populations of rhino and must be stopped if we hope to save these amazing species.”
South Africa isn’t the only country affected by rhino poaching. Poachers seek out the large land mammals in Botswana, India, Kenya, Namibia and Nepal. To help save rhinos who are victims of poaching, you can make a donation to Saving The Survivors. Additionally, you can share this article to raise awareness and comment your thoughts below.