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Czechs break up rhinoceros horn smuggling ring

  • This file picture taken on December 10, 2010 shows two male rhinoceros lock horns playfully while pasturing in the savanah at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, some 300 kilometers north of Nairobi. (AFP PHOTO / ROBERTO SCHMIDT)

PRAGUE: Czech officials say they have broken up an international gang that allegedly was smuggling horns of endangered rhinoceroses from Africa to Asia.

Police investigator Daniel Zivocky says a total of 16 people have been detained and 24 horns worth some $5 million were seized.

Customs official Ales Hruby says the gang hired Czech nationals who went to South Africa as hunters with permission to shoot one rhino as a trophy that is meant strictly for personal use.

Hruby said Tuesday the horns were handed over to the gang, which planned to smuggle them to other countries.

Demand for rhino horns has skyrocketed in recent years, leading to increased prices on the black market. Despite no evidence, there's a belief in Asia that taking ground-up horn cures diseases.

 
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