Thu, 21 Mar 2019

Minister of Environmental Affairs Nomvula Mokonyane welcomed the recovery of more than 30 pieces of rhino horn at OR Tambo International Airport on Wednesday.

"The discovery and seizure of the rhino horn, estimated to be worth more than R23m, is a feather in the cap of enforcement agencies working to rid the airport, and our country, of wildlife-related crimes," said Mokonyane.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) announced that the seizure was part of an ongoing operation aimed at ridding the airport of criminal activities following the recent confiscation of rhino horn originating from Southern Africa.

News24 reported on Thursday that the discovery was made during K9 searches at several cargo warehouses where export consignments were packed to be shipped to Dubai. A detector dog reacted positively to a shipment destined for the Middle East.

READ MORE: Rhino horn worth millions seized at OR Tambo before take off to Dubai

Mokonyane said the actions of the multi-disciplinary team, comprising members of the police, the department's Environmental Management Inspectorate, known as the Green Scorpions, customs and excise, K9 units and Airports Company SA security personnel are to be commended.

"Their successful efforts to rid our ports of entry and exit of particularly wildlife smuggling is an indication of the ongoing success of the Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros approach," said Mokonyane.

Between January 1, 2018 and August 31, 2018, 508 rhino were poached compared to 691 in the same period in 2017.

The Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros approach is jointly handled by the department with the justice, crime prevention and security cluster ministries.

Also supporting the efforts are the South African National Parks (SANParks), the provincial conservation authorities, the South African Revenue Service (SARS), the Asset Forfeiture Unit, the Financial Intelligence Unit in the Ministry of Finance and the National Prosecuting Authority.

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