Thirty-three rhino horns have been found in a container aboard a ship in Hong Kong. The vessel had earlier departed from Cape Town, suggesting the haul was from some of the rhinos killed this year in South Africa.

The discovery of the horns, hidden in a container carrying scrap plastic, is a significant blow to rhino poaching syndicates. With more than 300 of the animals slaughtered in South Africa this year for their horns, it means nearly 10% of poachers’ ill-gotten gains will not reach the market of eager buyers in China and Vietnam.

The rhino horns, together with ivory chopsticks and bracelets found in the container, are estimated to be worth HK$ 17.4 million (about R18.17m or US$2.27m).

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+Scotch Macaskill