Sunday, 26 March 2017

'Better de-horned than dead' – zoo chops rhino horns to foil poachers

Czech zoo takes saw to the horns of its 21 rhinoceroses in response to deadly attack at Paris wildlife park this month

Associated Press in Prague

Wednesday 22 March 2017 01.25 GMT

A Czech zoo has started to remove the horns from its 21 rhinos as a precaution after the recent killing of a rhinoceros at a wildlife park in France by assailants who stole the animal’s horn.

With rhino horns considered a wonder cure in Asia – for everything from cancer, colds and fevers to high blood pressure, hangovers, impotence and other ailments – poachers have killed thousands of the animals in Africa and elsewhere.

It is estimated that 6,000 individuals from the world’s five species of rhinos have been killed in the last nine years, leaving a global wild population of about 30,000.

But the attack at the Thoiry zoo near Paris earlier this month was a warning sign for zookeepers around the globe that poaching could be spreading beyond the killing fields of Africa and Asia.
 
The Dvur Kralove zoo, 70 miles north-east of Prague, has four southern white rhinos and 17 black ones, the largest group of its kind in Europe.

Director Přemysl Rabas said on Tuesday that it was a tough decision to saw off the animals’ horns.

But, he added: “The risk that the rhinos currently face, not only in the wild but even in zoos, is too high.

“The safety of the animals is our first concern. A de-horned rhino is definitely a better option than a dead rhino.” The zoo said the procedure is painless for the animals and has been used before for safety reasons, especially when the rhinos are moved to other locations. The severed horns will gradually grow back again.
 

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