Maputo — The Mozambican police have arrested a Chinese citizen at Maputo International Airport, as he attempted to smuggle nine rhinoceros horns out of the country.
According to the spokesperson for the Maputo City Police Command, Orlando Mudumane, cited by the independent television channel STV, the 49 year old Chinese (whose name was not revealed) had wrapped the horns in aluminium foil, and hidden them amongst foodstuffs in his suitcase.
The horns were discovered when the trafficker attempted to check-in his suitcase. Mudumane said the police are now investigating the origin of the horns.
"As you must know, this is a consequence of poaching, a phenomenon that worries the country", he said. "The defence and security forces have made an effort to stop this phenomenon which is part of organised crime".
The police suspect that this trafficker was part of a crime network. "He was living in Maputo City", said Mudumane, "and probably other members of the group brought the rhino horns to him. We are trying to find the others, who may tell us where they killed the animals".
Since both species of African rhinoceros (the black and the white) are believed to be extinct in southern Mozambique, it is likely that the horns came from rhinos poached in neighbouring countries such as South Afrkica.
The final destination of the Chinese citizen was Vietnam, where there is a thriving market for rhino horn, which is believed to cure every ailment, from hangovers to cancer.
This is the fourth seizure of rhino horns in Maputo this year, and the destination of the horns is usually Vietnam.