Customs officers stand guard near smuggled ivory bracelets at the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department in Hong Kong Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011. Hong Kong Customs seized a total of 33 ‘unmanifested’ rhino horns, 758 ivory chopsticks and 127 ivory bracelets, worth about HK$17 million ($2.23 million), inside a container shipped to Hong Kong from Cape Town, South Africa. HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong customs agents have confiscated a shipment of rhino horns and ivory worth about 17.4 million Hong Kong dollars ($2.2 million) — their biggest seizure of smuggled endangered species products, officials said Tuesday. Officials said they seized 33 rhino horns, 758 ivory chopsticks and 127 ivory bracelets concealed in a shipping container that arrived Monday at Hong Kong’s port from Cape Town, South Africa.
They would not name the container’s final destination. Customs agents X-rayed the container because its listed cargo — scrap plastic — raised a flag, said Acting Head of Ports and Maritime Command Lam Tak-fai. They found the rhino horns and ivory after peeling away layers of tinfoil, paper and plastic wrapped around the items. Wai-king Yik, a spokeswoman for the customs and excise department, said it was a record seizure of endangered species products for Hong Kong. The seizure tops one in August of $1.6 million worth of African ivory. Several rhino subspecies are believed to have recently become extinct. Rhino horns are prized by Vietnamese and Chinese who believe they can cure an array of ailments, and the horns can fetch up to $50,000 per pound (about $100,000 per kilogram). Some 190 pounds (86 kilograms) worth of rhino horns were found Monday by the Hong Kong officials, who said they would have required the deaths of around 17 rhinos. Lam told reporters it was a record seizure of rhino horns for Hong Kong. He said customs agents have occasionally found single rhino horns being smuggled in luggage by visitors to Hong Kong but this is the first time they have found a large batch hidden in a shipping container. No one has been arrested.
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The buyers of rhino horn should buy live rhinos in healthy condition, and then breed in a natural conditions simulating environment for harvesting, then replace with faux horn (with clear marks that it is faux so it won’t be harrassed), then release into wild back into nature reserves in Africa. This repopulates the rhino and also ensures larger populations eventually as well as lowers rhino horn prices. The Chinese need to think long term, and should know that once the last rhino dies, there will be no more Rhino Horn products FOREVER. Breeders or medical inclined philanthropists should begin buying live rhinos and with that wealth breed them in reserves until there are herds millions strong in the wild for harvesting again.
Finally, be gentle with the animals, who knows it migth have been a relative in a past life who spent all their time ‘cockblocking’ you and was now reborn as a rhino to return that stolen ‘horn Qi’! Rhino Horns, like Elephant Tusks should be accessible to sponsors who feed and maintain the animals in a community and are only to be harvested upon NATURAL death at old age (care should be taken to ensure the horn’s material is protected (i.e. blunt – so that the animals won’t hurt each other too much if sparring – horn or tusk shaped adjustable steel sheaths with padding inside, sealed at the edges). This would mean that reservations of horns and tusks should span several decades and cost a few tens of thousands in a reserve at least until natural herd numbers are sufficiently large that such reservations will not be necessary. That first colony of 20 or 100 rhinos of various species could make the difference. Blue Ocean is better than Red Ocean. The Chinese are supposed to have patience, start exercising that patience now before the entire industry dies with the Rhino Species!