Fedblog FedblogFedblog
Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

Federal Rhino Raiders Crack Down on Smugglers

White rhinos in South Africa are critically endangered. White rhinos in South Africa are critically endangered. Flickr user ben_lei

Of the five species of rhinoceros, three are critically endangered due to habitat loss and, mostly, poaching. The rhino's horn -- made of keratin, the same substance making up fingernails, hooves and hair -- is used in Eastern medicine to cure any number of ailments, from cancer to bunions. There is no scientific evidence that rhino horn is effective as a cure.

This week, federal agents raided homes and businesses to track down and investigate smugglers and sellers of the illegal horn. The Fish and Wildlife Service said it has arrested three major alleged smugglers in Southern California. The service seized more than $1 million in cash, $1 million in gold bars, diamonds and Rolex watches, along with 20 rhino horns.

The raids are the culmination of Operation Crash, named after the term for a group of rhinos. The 18-month investigation is in partial reaction to a surging demand for rhino horn in Vietnam and China. In England, attempted thefts of rhino specimens from museums have been on the rise. According to reports, one kilogram is worth $65,000, more than precious metals.

The announcement coincidentally, comes the day after an NBC report Wednesday on rhino poaching in South Africa:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

According to the World Wildlife Fund, the nation has been a focal point, because it allows the export of horns as hunting trophies. Nearly 450 rhinos were killed in South Africa in 2011, a huge increase from the 13 reported killed in 2007. South Africa held public hearings on the issue in January.

While the Fish and Wildlife Service's jurisdiction does not extend to Africa, the organization helps by using the Endangered Species Act and the Lacey Act, which make interstate commerce and international trade illegal. With the arrests this week, the service has "dealt a serious blow to rhino horn smuggling both in the U.S. and globally," director Dan Ashe said.

Prior to joining Government Executive’s staff, Ross Gianfortune worked at The Washington Post, The Gazette Newspapers, WXRT Radio and The Columbia Missourian. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from University of Missouri and a master's in communications from the American University.

Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.