According to the customs authority, dozens of rhino horn pieces disguised as art and valued at an estimated R115-million was seized at the OR Tambo International Airport on Tuesday.
The statement read that customs officials “discovered 41 pieces of rhino horn valued at R115.66-million in a consignment declared as ‘fine art'”.
The cargo which was destined for Kuala Lumpur via Doha was detected during a routine inspection of warehouses at the airport.
Home to approximately 80 percent of the world’s rhino population, South Africa has become the epicentre of poaching in recent years but has seen a steady decline in numbers of rhino killed since 2014.
In 2019, 594 rhino were slaughtered for their horns, a decline from 769 in 2018.
Demand for rhino horn is primarily fuelled by consumers in Asia where it is coveted as traditional medicine, an aphrodisiac or as a status symbol, and can fetch up to $60,000 per kilogramme.
The horn is nonetheless composed mainly of keratin, the same substance found in human nails.