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Suspects arrested for stealing large stockpile of rhino horns in S. Africa


Suspects arrested for stealing large stockpile of rhino horns in S. Africa

CAPE TOWN, June 9 (Xinhua) -- Law enforcement agents have arrested two suspects for stealing 112 rhino horns in April, authorities said on Monday.

The two suspects arrested over the weekend were employees of the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA).

More arrests are expected, said Paul Ramoloko, spokesman of Hawks, an anti-organized crime unit.

Thieves broke into a secure safe at MTPA's headquarters on April 22, stealing 112 rhino horns, with a total weight of 80,135 kilograms, the largest theft of this kind in years.

Ramoloko said at that time police suspected that a syndicate had been involved in the theft.

At 60,000 U.S. dollars per kilogram, rhino horn rivals the street value of cocaine, and is almost double the value of gold which is about 32,000 dollars a kilogram.

The theft indicates that criminals have began to steal rhino horns more frequently, as the fight against rhino poaching is gaining momentum.

Since the beginning of this year, 442 rhinos have been poached in South Africa, home to about 80 percent of the world's rhino population.

During the period, 123 suspected poachers were arrested, the Department of Environmental Affairs said.

Crime syndicates are believed to be behind growing rhino poaching, fueled by demand for rhino horns which are said to cure all diseases, notably cancer, although there is no scientific evidence to prove this.