Man held for carrying rhino horns minus permit

Major haul: This handout photo from Singapore’s National Parks Board shows pieces of rhino horns at the National Parks Board premises in Singapore, after being seized. — AFP

A South African man who allegedly brought more than 34kg of rhinoceros horns worth S$1.2mil (RM3.9mil) into Singapore without a valid export permit was charged in court yesterday.

This is the largest seizure of rhinoceros horns in Singapore.

Gumede Sthembiso Joel, 32, and the 34.25kg of African rhinoceros horns were intercepted at Changi Airport on Tuesday at around noon.

The horns from Johannesburg, South Africa, were on their way to Vientiane, Laos.

Joel did not have a valid Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) permit or any written permission issued by the authorities in South Africa.

A Cites permit is needed to get approval from the National Parks Board (NParks) for the import, export and re-export of protected specimens. This permit is required for both commercial consignments and personal effects.

Joel was in transit in Singapore when 20 pieces of the horns were detected by officers from airport security and the NParks’ K9 unit. He was arrested immediately.

NParks said genetic testing is being carried out at its Centre for Wildlife Forensics to identify which species of rhinoceros the horns came from.

“The horns will subsequently be destroyed to prevent them from re-entering the market, disrupting the global supply chain of illegally traded rhinoceros horns,” said NParks.

Under the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act, an individual in possession of a Cites-scheduled species travelling through Singapore without a valid Cites permit can be fined S$50,000 (RM162,000) a species, capped at S$500,000 (RM1.6mil), or jailed for up to two years, or both. — The Straits Times/ANN

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