Criminal networks smuggling
rhino horn out of Africa are turning it into jewellery to evade its
detection in airports, an investigation has found.
Wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic revealed an emerging
trend of making and smuggling beads, bracelets and bangles and
rhino horn powder.
The lead investigator told BBC News the trade in rhino horn was
now morphing into a market for luxury items.
At least 7,100 rhinos are estimated to have been killed in
Africa since 2007.
Today, about 25,000 of the animals remain.
Julian Rademeyer from Traffic explained that the production of
rhino horn trinkets mirrored some of the patterns seen in the trade
Its very worrying, he told BBC News. Because if someones walking
through the airport wearing a necklace made of rhino horn, who is
going to stop them?
Police are looking for a piece of horn and whole horns.
The primary destinations for smuggled rhino horn remain the
same; the largest markets are in China and Vietnam. But this
investigation also found that smuggling routes constantly changed
and adapted, becoming more complex in order to avoid countries and
airports where law enforcement resources were being focused.
This shift in how horn is processed before it is moved could
make it more difficult to detect.
This is quite a preliminary assessment, explained Mr Rademeyer,
but its vital that theres information sharing about these new
trends particularly with law enforcement.
He added that the market for medicinal rhino horn believed by
many to be a cure for a range of illnesses, from rheumatism to
cancer seemed to have red...