Malaysia makes record seizure of rhino horns worth about R175m

White rhino
White rhino
Image: Henk Kruger

Malaysia has made a record seizure of 50 rhino horns worth about $12m (R175m) at the Kuala Lumpur airport as they were being flown to Vietnam.

Customs officials found the parts in cardboard boxes on August 13 in the cargo terminal of the capital’s airport, Malaysia’s wildlife department head, Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim, said.

The 50 rhino horns weighed 116kg and were worth about 50m ringgit (R175m), he said.

“The seizure was the biggest ever in Malaysia’s history in terms of the number of horns and value.”

Vietnam is a hot market for rhino horn, which is believed to have medicinal properties and is in high demand among the communist nation’s growing middle class.

Trade in rhino horn was banned globally in 1977 by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, but illegal hunters have decimated rhino populations to sate rampant demand in East Asia.

A single kilogram of rhino horn can fetch tens of thousands of dollars in the region, where many falsely believe it can cure cancer.

All rhino species are under threat of extinction.

Abdul Kadir said authorities were unable to identify the origin of the horn, but it usually came from Africa.