Malaysia has seized millions of dollars worth of rhinoceros horns that were reportedly smuggled into the country from Mozambique via Doha last week, airport authorities said on Monday (10 April).

Customs officials at Kuala Lumpur International Airport found 18 rhino horns weighing more than 51kg on 7 April in a package that was flown in from the African nation via Qatar Airways to Malaysia. The horns were worth Malaysian ringgit 13.6m ($3.1m, £2.5m).

Despite a UN convention ban on global trade in rhino horns, they are in great demand in some countries in Asia for their use in traditional remedies that treat everything from fever to cancer.

The package containing the horns was declared as art objects and carried a forged air bill, according to the Associated Press. A fake address was also given as the final destination of the shipment. It was marked to be delivered to a place in Negri Sembilan, a state in Malaysia near Putrajaya, local media reported.

"The address of the consignee and the agent of the recipient didn't exist. All the documentation used for the shipment were false," airport customs director Hamzah Sundang told reporters at the airport customs complex.

His team seized the horns, which were packed in wooden crates, from the airport cargo warehouse after receiving a tip-off. No one has been arrested in connection with the incident and the case is being investigated.

The office of Qatar Airways in Kuala Lumpur, which reportedly flew the shipment containing the smuggled goods into Malaysia, is yet to respond to the incident, Reuters said.

Smuggling of parts of endangered species is illegal in Malaysia and if convicted a person can face a minimum fine of 10 times or a maximum of 20 times the amount of the customs duty or Malaysian ringgit 100,000, and/or imprisonment not exceeding three years.

Rhino horns
Kuala Lumpur International Airport customs director Hamzah Sundang (second from right) poses with rhino horns that were seized on 7 April from Mozambique to Kuala Lumpur via Doha, during a news conference at the airport in Sepang, Malaysia Reuters/Rozanna Latiff