The animal kingdom is mourning a tremendously tragic loss this week. On the night of March 6, 2017, poachers broke into the Thoiry Zoo in France, shot and killed a four-year-old white rhino, and then hacked off his horn to sell on the black market. This is believed to be the first case in Europe’s history where a zoo has been targeted by poachers.
The young rhino named Vince was born in the Netherlands in 2012 and arrived at Thoiry Zoo in 2015. There are five species and eleven sub-species of rhinoceros in the world, and all are considered extremely endangered or threatened. The demand for their horns, particularly in China where horns are nonsensically considered an aphrodisiac, is fueling these heinous acts. Sadly, rhino horns are composed of nothing more than keratin, the same substance that makes up our own hair and nails. In 2015, a kilogram of rhino horn was selling for $54,000.
The demand for rhino horns is becoming exponentially problematic. In 2007, thirteen white rhinos were poached in South Africa. In 2015, this number rose to an alarming 1,175! If drastic measures are not made to halt these global crimes, the faces of these precious rhinos will only be in the history books.
Despite security cameras and on-site zookeepers, the selfish greed for rhino horns led poachers to break into the rhino’s enclosure, shoot him dead, and chainsaw his horn off. His second horn was partially cut, causing reason to believe the poachers either feared being caught or their tools malfunctioned. Due to their relatively non-aggressive nature, white rhinos can be more easily targeted by poachers than some other animals.
The poachers are still at large and anyone with information leading to their arrests is encouraged to contact the Thoiry Zoo or French authorities.
Poaching threatens the world’s biodiversity and affects each and every one of us on the planet. Please help spread awareness of the tragic effects poaching by sharing this story. Though there have been improvements in laws regarding poaching and smuggling of animals, poaching will only end once the selfish demand for animal parts ends.
Take action to save rhinos!
Image source: Thoiry Zoo