June 9, 2014

SOUTH AFRICA: Great Rhino Horn Heist: Thieves Arrested After Making Off With 112 Pieces Of Horn Collection Worth £3.1 Million

The Telegraph UK
written by Reuters staff
Monday June 9, 2014

Two men have been arrested in connection with the heist of 112 pieces of rhino horn worth about £3.1 million from a South African game park office in the first known theft of its kind.

Thieves broke into the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency south-east of Johannesburg in April and cut into a strong box, making off with 80 kilograms of rhino horn, the Hawks criminal investigation unit said on Monday.

“We have arrested two people and they will be appearing in court today,” Captain Paul Ramaloko from the Hawks said, adding that the horns had not yet been recovered.

Most of the horns stolen from the park were from dehorning operations, which is an attempt by local authorities to decrease poaching and to protect the rhino species.

The biggest market for illegal rhino horn in recent years has been Vietnam, where the product is sold in pharmacies and over the Internet at about $65,000 a kilogram, making it more expensive than gold, platinum and cocaine.

Ramaloko said he expects to make more arrests related to the theft as the investigation continue.

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