Pendants, powder and pathways: a rapid assessment of smuggling routes and techniques used in the illicit trade in African rhino horn

A TRAFFIC report reveals disturbing new evidence that some criminal networks of Chinese origin operating in South Africa are now processing rhino horn locally into beads, bracelets, bangles and powder to evade detection and provide ready-made products to consumers in Asia, mainly in Viet Nam and China. The report, Pendants, Powder and Pathways—A rapid assessment of smuggling routes and techniques used in the illicit trade in African rhino horn, documents recent cases in which police have discovered small home-based workshops for processing rhino horn and have seized beads, bracelets and bags of rhino horn powder. More than 7,100 rhinos have been killed for their horns in Africa over the past decade. South Africa, home to 79% of Africa’s last remaining rhinos, is the centre of the storm, suffering 91% of the continent’s known poaching losses in 2016. Facilitated by resilient, highly-adaptive criminal networks and endemic corruption in many countries along the illicit supply chain, demand for rhino horn is driven by consumers in Asia, with Viet Nam and China identified as the dominant end use markets.