China accounted for nearly 80% of the reported seizures of illegal rhino horns in Asia between 2009 and 2013, despite a national ban on the illicit trade.
According to figures collated by the international wildlife trade monitoring organisation Traffic, 30 seizures of 67 rhino horns weighing 151.93 kilograms were documented in China. Hong Kong has emerged as a major conduit in the rhino horn trade to China.
The trafficking routes of rhino horns seized on their way into China varied in every case. Poached in Southern Africa, the horns were sometimes shipped in cargo holds from Cape Town or Maputo.
Sometimes they were transported to other African countries like Nigeria first and then shipped among timber or agricultural products to China. In other cases horns have been mailed or shipped to North America or Europe, and then flown on to China.
This map, drawn by Philippe Rekacewicz from information provided by the Oxpeckers Center for Investigative Environmental Journalists, underscores how the traffic of rhino horn spans the globe.
Investigations by our center indicated that, given the huge number of potential consumers in China and their growing purchasing power, the predicted growth in illicit trafficking of horns to China could be a disaster for South Africa’s remaining rhino populations. (http://oxpeckers.org/category/investigations/chinese-links)
In late 2013 two young Chinese journalists joined the Oxpeckers investigative team, with the aim of exposing wildlife trafficking links between Africa and China (Chinese Environmental Journalism Project). Oxpeckers is Africa’s first journalistic investigation unit focusing on environmental issues. It combines traditional investigative reporting with data analysis and geo-mapping tools to expose eco-offences and track organised crime syndicates in southern Africa.