Customs to focus on rhino products

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 September, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 September, 1993, 12:00am

SMUGGLERS of rhinoceros horns and associated products face a harder time getting their contraband through the territory, governmentofficials pledged yesterday.

Customs and Agriculture and Fisheries Department (AFD) officials vowed to put a greater effort into intercepting the illegal consignments.

Extra vigilance was promised after allegations that Hong Kong was a major transit point for the trade in rhino horns.

The allegations were made by the Environmental Investigation Agency and the World Society for the Protection of Animals, both British-based, to the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

The CITES standing committee will meet this week in Brussels to consider the allegations, which focus mainly on the continuing illegal trade in rhino horn in Taiwan and China.

The US raised the possibility of trade sanctions against the two countries.

The report to CITES is described as preliminary.

The agency's Hong Kong representative, Heena Patel, said the report would be followed soon with the release of information proving the territory's involvement.

Rhino horn is used in traditional Chinese medicine as a treatment for ailments ranging from influenza to epilepsy. It is consumed mainly in China, Taiwan, Thailand, South Korea and Yemen.

An AFD spokesman said the department rejected any inference that the ban on trading in rhino horns was not enforced.

More checks on Chinese traditional medicine shops were planned.