3 arrested in Hanoi for smuggling rhino horn

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Two white rhinos grazing. Photo: AFP Two white rhinos grazing. Photo: AFP

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Three Vietnamese people were arrested for allegedly smuggling seven kilograms of rhino horn in Hanoi's Noi Bai Airport on Saturday.
Vuong Minh Thu, 24, Duong Thi Thuy Hien, 35, and Bui Thi Xien, 48, who boarded a flight from Bangkok to Hanoi, showed "suspicious signs" after landing in Noi Bai Airport, customs officials said.
A body search turned up seven kilograms of undocumented slabs of rhino horn, worth an estimated ND4 billion (US$188,200) on the black market, the officials said.
That was the second rhino horn trafficking case busted at Noi Bai Airport in a week, and the seventh horn/ivory smuggling case so far this year.
On October 27 Nguyen Thi Ngoc Tu, 29, who also arrived from Bangkok, was found smuggling nearly six kilograms of rhino horn.
Two Vietnamese men were also arrested by South African police on Saturday at Johannesburg airport with a record haul of 18 rhino horns, intact and weighing 41 kilograms (90 pounds), during a stopover on a flight from Mozambique to Hanoi.
“This is the largest haul of rhino horns seized in one operation in South Africa,” said a joint statement from police and customs officials.
Vietnam bans the commercial use of rhinoceros horn, which is composed largely of the protein keratin, also the chief component in hair and fingernails.
The trade has been fuelled by a belief in its supposed medicinal properties, including as a cure for cancer. Many also flaunt the horns as a status symbol.
Research funded by the World Wide Fund for Nature South Africa (WWF-SA) that surveyed 720 people in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City last year found that rhino horn consumers are wealthy and use the horn mostly to establish that.
However, a recent poll found that consumer demand for rhino horn in Vietnam has dropped precipitously following several advertising campaigns.
According to the poll by the Humane Society International (HIS) and Vietnam CITES, which was announced last month, demand has plunged 38 percent since last year. 

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