In daily life, many people like to collect some valuable items, for example, Ms. Zhang in Tianjin, is such a hobbyist, in May 2020, Ms. Zhang purchased a white rhino horn ornament online, and then was seized by the Customs Anti-Smuggling Bureau when entering customs, and Ms. Zhang was also criminally detained.
In a subsequent investigation, Ms. Zhang turned herself in and said that she had not only purchased white rhino horn, but also bought a helmeted hornbill pendant online in 2018.
Although Ms. Zhang turned herself in, Ms. Zhang was eventually sentenced to 10 years in prison because she purchased illegal items and was suspected of endangering precious and endangered wild animals, and the amount involved was also very large.
Ms. Zhang herself was not satisfied with this result, she thought that the sentence was a bit too heavy, so, on April 7 this year, after China’s Supreme People’s Court and Supreme People’s Procuratorate adjusted the sentencing standards for crimes such as Ms. Zhang for crimes of destroying wildlife resources, Ms. Zhang also hired a defense lawyer, hoping to re-sentence.
So, how harmful is the white rhino horn and helmeted hornbill pendant that Ms. Zhang bought online?
White rhino horn, that is, horns cut from the head of rhinos, is a very cruel act, and wild rhinos have become very rare because of human greed for their rhino horns.
In China, as early as 100 years ago, because of human hunting, all wild rhinos were extinct, and since 1993, China has banned the use of rhino horn, which also means that after 1993, the rhino horn circulating in China is actually illegally smuggled, and the white rhino horn found by Ms. Zhang in Tianjin is no exception.
Ms. Zhang said that she bought these things online, and the transaction channels were direct communication and transfer through social software, of which the white rhino horn cost 95,000 yuan and the helmeted hornbill pendant cost 4,500 yuan. However, after judicial evaluation, the actual economic value of these two illegal items was 140,000 yuan for white rhino horn and 200,000 yuan for helmeted hornbill pendant, which is the main reason why Ms. Zhang was sentenced to 10 years in prison because of the seriousness of the circumstances.
So, what is a helmeted hornbill? This is a large hornbill and the largest known hornbill species, adult helmeted hornbill body length can reach 1.2 meters, you know, such a size in birds, is already considered “big”.
As can be seen from the name, the characteristics of helmeted hornbills are that their skull looks like a helmet, and because their skull is solid and the color is very beautiful, so, since ancient times, helmeted hornbills have been targeted by humans, although people do not know about them, but mention a very famous handicraft “crane top red” I believe everyone has heard, it is made of helmeted hornbill skull.
From the distribution point of view, there are no wild helmeted hornbills in China, they are mainly distributed in the tropical rainforests of East Asia and Southeast Asia, in the Yuan Dynasty, as a tribute into our country, it is worth mentioning that although there is no helmeted hornbill distribution in China, but China’s ancient helmeted hornbill crafts are very rich, and because it is very precious, which also makes the world’s antique collectors are very keen to buy helmeted hornbill products.
For example, in the United States in 2007, there was an auction of a snuff bottle made of a helmeted hornbill, but the final price of this small item reached 650,000 yuan, and even the unprocessed helmeted hornbill skull, the cheapest one cost tens of thousands of yuan, and internationally, more precious than ivory products. This also makes the helmeted hornbill finally pay for human greed, and this giant hornbill has long been an endangered species.
Speaking of which, the most cruel thing about human beings to helmeted hornbills is that they do not take the skulls of the dead helmeted hornbills, but directly take the bones alive, you know, this is a very cruel act, so internationally, the trade of helmeted hornbill products will be prohibited, but because there are still many people asking for purchases, this has also led to underground trading has always existed.
So, is Ms. Zhang really too heavy this time in Tianjin?
Ms. Zhang said that although she has purchased helmeted hornbill pendants, rhino horns and other illegal items since 2018, she did not know their value, nor did she know that her behavior had constituted a crime.
However, even if Ms. Zhang is really ignorant, but she bought these things, the fact of breaking the law is undeniable, the original Kunming Xishan District Court sentencing, it was also in accordance with the laws and regulations at that time, although this time the state revised the new sentencing standards, but whether Ms. Zhang really sentenced too severe, or need further investigation and judgment.
At present, Ms. Zhang’s application for re-evaluation and re-sentencing was also rejected by the court, but she will continue to apply, hoping to be sentenced lightly, so do you think that Ms. Zhang’s sentence is really too heavy?