Vietnam nabs 125 kilos of rhino horn

Fifty-five pieces of rhino horn were found encased in plaster at an airport in the Vietnamese capital.

The state is both a consumption hub and popular transit point for the multibillion dollar trade in animal parts.

The 125-kilogram haul of rhino horn discovered at Hanoi’s Noi Bai airport on Thursday was found after the carefully disguised shipment aroused suspicion.

It was not immediately clear which African country the shipment originated from. The parts were found the same day police arrested a key wildlife trafficking suspect and two other men after seven frozen tiger carcasses were discovered in their vehicle in a parking lot.

The busts follow a record seizure in Singapore a week ago of nearly nine tons of ivory and a huge stash of pangolin scales destined for Vietnam.

Elephant tusks, pangolins, tiger parts and rhino horn are all sold on the black market in Vietnam. Rhino horn is especially prized, with one kilogram fetching up to $60,000.

It is in high demand in Vietnam where some believe that it can help cure diseases and hangovers when ground into powder. Poachers in Africa have decimated wild rhino populations to meet demand despite the trade being banned globally in the 1970s.

Only about 29,000 rhinos survive in the wild, down from half a million at the beginning of the 20th century.