Poaching is a problem that has been around for decades and it doesn’t appear that it is going away anytime soon. With recent events, it is clear that despite anti-poaching campaigns and patrols, poachers are actually becoming bolder. Poaching continues to threaten the extinction of several species within the next decade. Rhinos are only one of these species that may succumb to extinction due to poaching in the next few years.
Recently, poachers broke into Thoiry Zoological Park, a French zoo outside of Paris, and forcefully killed a white rhino named Vince. He was only four-years-old, but loved by many. Vince was slaughtered in his enclosure during the night on Monday, March 6th, 2017. The next morning, his keeper discovered the horrific scene of a hornless beloved rhino shot in the head three times. The poachers appear to have used a chainsaw to remove one of the horns, but must have been interrupted before they could get the second horn off because it was just partially cut. Imagine the weight on this zoo’s shoulders as they will forever be known for the first rhino to be killed in a zoo by poaching.
“This is the first time we’ve heard of it,” said Crawford Allan, the senior director of TRAFFIC North America, a regional office of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). “It’s certainly the first time it’s happened in Europe. “It’s an incredibly shocking and distressing occurrence,” he added. “It’s also a game-changer for zoos. They’ve woken up today and realized their world has changed if they have live rhinos in their collection.”
This incident is unfortunate because rhinos are already on the brink of extinction due to poaching and habitat loss in the wild and zoos are thought to be a safe way to preserve these species. The numbers show that 2016 was the worst year for poaching that we have ever had despite dying horns red and imprinting 3-D horns to make poaching less lucrative. Poachers are killing rhinoceroses in the wild and in protected reserves around the world at alarming rates. The western black rhino has already succumbed to extinction. Two other species of Javan rhino have also gone extinct, while there is still a small population of Javan Rhinos left in Indonesia. There are also only three northern white rhino left in the world. Many cultures believe that a rhino horn has magical properties. While education efforts are underway, they have not resulted in decrease poaching. In fact, the insatiable need for rhino horns in countries like Vietnam and Thailand puts every rhino at risk, including those in zoos as demonstrated in France.
Our condolences go out to the Thoiry Zoological Park as they only begin to wrap their heads around this horrific crime. He at zoo nation we are for the preservation of species and scientifically managing animals in human care, but we absolutely do not tolerate poaching.