Sunday, July 23, 2017

Chinese woman pulls big fine for trafficking in endangered species

B.C. woman Xiu Mei Cui has been fined $75,000 for illegally importing jewelry and carved items made from endangered animals into Canada. She pleaded guilty to two charges under the law regulating the trade of plants and animals. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), regulates trade. International trade in seriously threatened species is prohibited.

Agents found she had undeclared jewelry, carvings and ornaments in her luggage made from African and Asian elephants, lion, white rhinoceros and hawksbill turtle. Interpol says animal smuggling is the fourth most lucrative type of crime, behind only illegal drugs, human trafficking and counterfeiting.
A 19th century rhinoceros horn was estimated to sell for $20,000 at a recent auction. But a “grand battle” erupted between four Asian bidders and when the smoke cleared, it had sold for $228,000. Normally, high-priced antiques are cherished as objects. But rhino horns can be worth a fortune because they’re used in traditional Chinese medicine and some people believe they’re an aphrodisiac.

In late 2015 Linxun Liao, 35, was sent to a U.S. prison for two years after pleading guilty to smuggling objects made from rhinoceros horn. He had purchased and smuggled 16 “libation cups” that had been carved from rhinoceros horns and that had a combined market value of more than $1 million.
The rarest of the black rhino subspecies, the West African black rhinoceros, was declared extinct in 2011. The species was once widespread in central Africa. Relentless poaching caused a steep decline in the population. The rhino was listed as "critically endangered" in 2008, but a survey of the animal's last remaining habitat in northern Cameroon failed to find any sign of the rhino. No West African black rhinos are held in captivity.
There are currently an estimated 4,000 Black Rhinos remaining in the wild, down from as many as 70,000 in the 1960s.