Sounding The Horn

Stephen Wiggins Article, Studies Leave a Comment

Save the Rhino International’s report, “Sounding the Horn” suggests that the United Kingdom (UK) antiques industry is trading rhino horn lots without proof of provenance in many cases.

However, there are loopholes in the UK’s regulations, whereby:

At present…..there is no pre-sale requirement to verify the age or provenance of rhino horn antiques

The [previous certification] system was not very robust, in that it was a simple online self-certification exercise, and in October 2014 the [UK] government changed the procedure and, effectively, shifted the responsibility for [self] verification onto the buyer” – “Sounding the Horn” page 6

In a system open to obvious abuse/fraud, how can anyone know with any degree of certainty that ‘modern’ rhino horn is not being laundered through the UK due to such lax rules/oversight – illicit rhino horn being exported on either via a ‘legal’ mask, or illegally trafficked, thus stimulating demand/poaching?

Our research found that 89% of rhino horn antique items for sale in the UK last year had no proof of age or origin. This makes it possible for modern, illegal rhino horn to be laundered through the UK. The lot descriptions for 58 of those items included the weight. No weights were given for items made of other materials such as wood.

Sophisticated criminal networks use a wide variety of methods to traffic illegal rhino horn to consumer countries, often routing it through EU countries.

Previous research on ivory had similar findings and now an Ivory Bill is going through parliament to impose much tighter controls on the sale of ivory in the UK. Unfortunately, rhinos will not be protected within this new piece of legislation.”

Sounding the Horn,” Save the Rhino International, October 2018 

Further Reading

How the UK was dragged into the international network of rhino horn smugglers,” NewStatesman, 18 October 2018

Antique traders accused of selling smuggled rhino horn,” October 2018, The Times

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