Even a secured zoo can’t shield endangered rhinos from greedy poachers

A white rhinoceros at Thoiry Zoo near Paris was killed for his horn on Monday, according to The New York Times. The Independent reported that the poacher or poachers shot him three times in the head and removed his horn using a chainsaw. The rhino’s name was Vince. He was only 4 years old. The life span of white rhinos is 40 years in the wild; 50 years in captivity. He was just a baby.

Vince was killed for his horn – the ivory. It is believed that his horn will yield approximately $31,700 to $42,300 on the black market. A mere pittance compared to the life of a majestic creature that is endangered in the wild.

The demand is particularly high in China where many believe their horns have medicinal properties. More commonly, Save the Rhino reports that the horns are used as a status symbol to display success and wealth.

According to the International Rhino Foundation, “[a]ll five rhino species are threatened with extinction.” White rhinos, in particular, are “near threatened,” although Naankuse lists their conservation status as “endangered.” Despite their endangered status, poachers continue to hunt and kill them for their ivory.

Mark Jones, a vet and director at the Born Free Foundation, made a statement – reported in the dodo – that “[r]hinos are in real crisis;” and adding:

Thousands have been brutally slaughtered by poachers over recent years, to supply horn into illegal markets mainly in Vietnam and China. The killing of Vince at Thoiry zoo near Paris marks a new low for these beleaguered ancient and noble creatures, and undermines the considerable efforts being made to protect remaining rhinos from poachers and reduce demand in consumer countries through public education programs.

It’s a lucrative “business” and it would seem some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a rhino horn. For conservationists and animal rights advocates, killing any animal in the wild for whatever reason – be it greed or bragging rights – is egregious and wrong, especially if the species is endangered. Breaking into a zoo to kill a captive rhino who never lived in the wild takes poaching to a whole new level. The culprits were willing to take the risk of getting caught by the zoo’s security measures to obtain what they set their sights on. Unfortunately for Vince, they succeeded.

RIP, Vince.




Featured image: Screen shot from YouTube video of Vince.



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