A Chinese man has been sentenced to a year in a Dutch jail for smuggling five rhino horns and four other horn objects worth about €500,000 (US$613,000) in his luggage.
The man was caught by customs officials at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport in December, as he transited from South Africa to the Chinese city of Shanghai.
“The Amsterdam court has sentenced a 30-year-old man of Chinese nationality to 12 months in prison for smuggling rhino horns and falsifying a visa,” the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority said.
It added that trading in endangered species is banned under the 45-year-old Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which prohibits the sales of protected animals and plants.
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South Africa is battling a scourge of rhino poaching fueled by demand for their horns in Asia. The country’s ministry of environmental affairs said earlier this year that 1,028 rhinos were slaughtered in 2017.
In the last eight years alone, roughly a quarter of the world population of rhinos has been killed in South Africa, home to 80 per cent of the remaining animals.
Most of the demand comes from China and Vietnam, where the horn is coveted as a traditional medicine, an aphrodisiac or as a status symbol.