Czech Republic makes EU’s Largest Ever Seizure of Rhino Horn

Czech Republic makes EU’s Largest Ever Seizure of Rhino Horn
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Cape Town, South Africa

Yesterday’s seizure by the Czech Republic of 24 White rhino horns and the arrest of 16 suspects in connection with wildlife trafficking, is the European Union’s largest yet and ample proof that proposals by South Africa to begin a legal trade in rhino horn is dangerous in the extreme, says the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – www.ifaw.org).

Czech authorities announced today that an international gang had been importing rhino horns illegally into the Czech Republic, from where they were to be shipped to Asia for sale. According to reports the gang used bogus hunters to kill the animals in South Africa, who then applied for export/import trophies to move the horns under the pretext of being personal trophies.

“This seizure shows just how big a problem wildlife trafficking is in the European Union,” said IFAW EU Regional Director Sonja Van Tichelen. “Europol estimates global wildlife trafficking is worth €18- to 26-billion per year. If the EU is to stop the organised criminals involved in wildlife trafficking here in Europe it needs to do more to build law enforcement capacity in the countries where these endangered species live and are at risk.”

At least 448 rhinoceros have been poached in South Africa since January 2013. Since 2008 (according to the SA Department of Environmental Affairs) a total of 2,142 rhino have been poached – from a total population of about 20,000 individuals.

The South African government recently announced that it would apply for legal trade in rhino horn at the next meeting of the Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) CoP (17).

“Illegal trade alone is nudging rhinos to extinction,” said Kelvin Alie, Director of IFAW Wildlife Crime and Consumer Awareness Programme.

“The seizure of so many horns, and the arrest of so many people at one time, throws into stark reality the very real threat to rhino populations. Selling stockpiled horn might make financial sense in the short-term, but is naïve economic simplicity when one considers biological and animal welfare consequences. The South African government needs to thing very carefully about the implications of their plans,” said Alie.

IFAW congratulates Czech law enforcement authorities for their successful intervention of the gang and seizure of the contraband horn. Czech officials previously seized 10 rhino horns at Prague airport in March 2012.

“Only international cooperation between law enforcement authorities will end illegal wildlife trafficking,” said Alie.

About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Post a comment

Press Contact

Christina Pretorius (IFAW SA)
Contact phone:
+27 21 701 8642
Contact mobile:
+27 82 330 2558
Contact email:
Adrian Hiel (IFAW EU)
Contact phone:
+32 2 282 0693
Contact mobile:
+32 473 86 34 61
Contact email:

Experts

Azzedine Downes,Executive Vice President for International Operations, VP of P
President and Chief Executive Officer
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Elsayed Ahmed Mohamed, Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Isabel McCrea, Regional Director, Oceania
Regional Director, Oceania
Jeffrey Flocken, Regional Director, North America
Regional Director, North America
Kelvin Alie, Programme Director, Wildlife Trade
Programme Director, Wildlife Trade
Peter Pueschel, Director, International Environmental Agreements
Director, International Environmental Agreements
Campaigner, Germany
Campaigner, Germany
Tania McCrea-Steele, Campaigns and Enforcement Manager, IFAW UK
Campaigns and Enforcement Manager, IFAW UK
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Regional Director, South Asia