Saturday, September 8, 2012

Customs seize expensive rhino-horns

Customs authorities have seized P47.4 million worth of illegally-shipped rhinoceros horn hidden in cashew shipment at the Manila International Container Port. According to the Bureau of Customs, the container van brought in by Mozambique-based company Chisteva Import and Export on August 25 did not file an entry for consignee and customs broker. This prompted Customs operatives to place the container van of cashews under surveillance. "After validating the surveillance reports of our operatives that there were other concealed items in the cashew nuts importation, we immediately issued the Alert Order to hold the shipment," Customs deputy commissioner Danilo Lim said. The importation of rhinoceros horn violated the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) as well as Philippine customs laws. Rhinoceros horn, according to the CITES Secretariat, is sold in China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam as a traditional cure for fever and hangovers. It has also been sold as an aphrodisiac and as a supposed cure for cancer. It noted that rising wealth in these countries has led to an increased demand for rhinoceros horn. The 8.5-kilogram shipment was valued at around $133 per gram, or around P47.4 million. "The seizure of these rhinoceros horns today should serve as a warning to ill minded traders that the Philippines is no place for them to indulge in their illicit trade," Customs commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon said. Biazon called the seizure a big boost in the country's participation against the illegal animal trade, saying "it will discourage unscrupulous traders from using the Philippines as either its distribution or transhipment point for their illicit rhinoceros horns trading."