Man arrested at ORTIA for trying to smuggle rhino horns to China

Hawks officials and members of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment were summoned on Thursday when a security officer operating scanners at the airport flagged a suspicious parcel.

A man attempted to smuggle rhino horns in a box of chocolates. He was arrested at the OR Tambo International Airport on 23 December 2021. The horns were destined for Shandong province in China. Picture: Supplied

CAPE TOWN - A 46-year-old man is spending the Christmas long weekend behind bars in connection with the discovery of a consignment of rhino horns at OR Tambo International Airport.

Hawks officials and members of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment were summoned on Thursday when a security officer operating scanners at the airport flagged a suspicious parcel.

The suspect will appear at the Kempton Park Magistrates Court on Tuesday for contravention of the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act.

The package, allegedly declared as a box of chocolates and wrapped as such, was destined for Shandong province in China.

Upon inspection, officials found six pieces of rhino horn.

This arrest follows a recent spate of rhino poaching incidents across the country.

According to the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, at least 24 rhino carcasses have been found in South Africa since 1 December.

Seven dead animals were found in the Kruger National Park, seven others were discovered in Mpumalanga, while there were six in KwaZulu-Natal and four rhino carcasses found in the Western Cape.