SAN FRANCISCO—On Friday, August 21, a San Francisco man pled guilty to charges of violating federal laws that protect endangered or threatened wildlife after attempting to sell two black rhinoceros horns to an undercover federal agent for $55,000.
The suspect, identified as Lumsden Quan, is a 47-year-old art dealer, but was posing as a broker for the horns’ owners. He and his partner, Edward Levine, were arrested in March 2015 in Las Vegas.
Quan has reportedly admitted that he and Levine, who is also set to stand trial, planned to have the horns brought into the state of Nevada upon making their sale.
He is expected to be officially sentenced in federal court in December.
Black rhinos, native to central and eastern Africa, are one of the most heavily poached animals in the world. Between the 1960s and the early 90s, the species saw a 96 percent decrease in numbers.
Thanks to the efforts of conservationists, the population of black rhinos is on the rise with a total worldwide population of just over 5,000, compared to 2,300 in 1993.
The poaching or hunting of endangered and protected animals has become a topic of discussion, in light the killing of of Zimbabwe’s, Cecil the Lion.
American dentist Walter Palmer is suspected of having illegally hunted the lion, who was being kept in Hwange National Park. Cecil is believed to have been lured out of the habitat, where he was ambushed by Palmer and his hunting guides.
Two of the men who accompanied Palmer have already been charged for their part in the lion’s death, with a third being pursued as well. Zimbabwe officials are actively seeking to extradite Palmer from the United States to stand trial in their country.