Pieces of  rhino horns seized at Tan Son Nhat International Airport (Source: VNA)
HCM City (VNA) - Rhino horns weighing nearly 4 kilogrammes with estimated value of nearly 8 billion VND (over 352,000 USD) have been seized at Tan Son Nhat International Airport, the airport’s custom officers said on June 14.

Eight pieces of horns (Cerathotherium simun) were discovered in the luggage of a 36 year-old man and a 32-year-old woman who have Vietnamese citizenship, flying from Africa to Vietnam. Pieces of horns were hidden in cosmetic and cookie boxes, and glazed terra-cotta kettles. 

The Customs Branch at the Ho Chi Minh city-based Tan Son Nhat International Airport prosecuted the case and is working with relevant authorities on further investigation.

So far this year, the airport’s customs, the Police Department for Smuggling Prevention and the Police Department for Economic Crime Investigation – Ho Chi Minh Police discovered and seized 6 kg of rhino horns and 10 kg of elephant’s tusks that smuggled across the airport.  

There are only 25,000 wild rhinos in the world at present, with the population dropping by 95 percent over the last four decades. South Africa is home to some 20,000 rhinos, or 80 percent of the total.

Up to 1,175 rhinos were poached in the country in 2015, down slightly from the record of 1,215 in 2014. However, many experts believe that the true number of poached rhinos is much higher. 

Poaching is attributed to rising demand for rhino horns in some Asian countries, including Vietnam, since many people in these nations believe that rhino horns can cure illness, a claim not corroborated by science.

Conservationists have warned that rhinos will become extinct within the next 10 years if poaching is not stopped. The last Java rhino in Vietnam was killed at Cat Tien National Park in 2010.-VNA