Customs officials of the South African Revenue Service (Sars) intercepted a consignment of rhino horns worth over R23 million at the OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA).

In a statement, Sars said the 36 pieces of rhino horn were found on Wednesday after “Lizzy”, a detector dog reacted positively to a consignment of so-called “decoration Items” in a warehouse.

“Customs officials accordingly cut open eight boxes attached together with bubble wrap. The horns, destined for Dubai, were hidden underneath cut laminated wooden sheets in four of the boxes which were otherwise filled with doormats and decorative items,” Sars said. 

“The total weight of the horns was 116 kilogrammes, valued at an approximate value of R23,200,000. The street value of these horns is assumed to be much higher.”


The inspection at the warehouse formed part of an initiative to increase enforcement activities on cargo for outbound flights, following recent reports that rhino horn, originating from South Africa, has been detected in the Far East. This initiative is continuing, Sars added.

The South African Police Services (SAPS) and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (Hawks) were alerted, and a criminal case was registered for further investigation.

-ANA, editing by Lindiz van Zilla