Following the devastating news of the recent poaching attack on the orphaned rhinos at Thula Thula in South Africa, a similar tragedy has just occurred, only this time in a place that perhaps most would not expect. Reports have just come in claiming that a rhino has been murdered at a zoo in France, with poachers using a chainsaw to remove the four year old rhino’s horn before fleeing the facility.
The white rhinoceros, named Vince, was found dead this morning by the keepers at Thoiry Zoo near Paris. The poachers broke into the zoo in the middle of the night and shot Vince in the head three times before cutting off his horn. Local publication, Le Parisien, reported that one or more poachers are believed to have broken in to the zoo, and forced their way into the enclosure where three rhinos lived. Despite getting away with one rhino horn and the life of Vince, evidence suggests that the poachers may have run out of time during their attack, or their equipment may have failed. This explanation is drawn from the fact that Vince’s second horn had been only partially hacked off and the other two white rhinos in the enclosure, five year old Bruno and 37 year old Gracie, were both unharmed and have been reported to be safe and healthy.
Vince was born at Burgers’ Zoo in the Netherlands in September 2012 and arrived in Paris in March 2015, meaning that he has spent his entire life in captivity. This tragic incident is thought to be the first time in Europe where a live animal living in captivity has been killed by poachers. Previous theft of ivory horns in Europe has taken place at auction houses or exhibitions in the past. The current black market value of rhino horn is around £30,000 and they are particularly sought after in Asia where they have beliefs that the horn provides aphrodisiac qualities, amongst other medicinal values. In actual fact, rhino horn is made of keratin which is the same protein that is in our own nails and hair. Therefore, biting your nails would have the same effect as taking rhino horn.
Since the discovery of the incident early this morning, an enquiry has been launched into Vince’s death. It will look into how the incident happened as security cameras where present, as well as the presence of five zoo staff members who live on the site, whilst also examining what kind of gun was used. This recent incident has highlighted just how bad the poaching crisis has become, pointing to a need for more wildlife welfare awareness, as well as better security protection.