All for Ivory?

Photo provided by National Geographic: Recently a rhino was shot and killed at a zoo in France.

Photo provided by National Geographic: Recently a rhino was shot and killed at a zoo in France.

Brooke Gagnon, Photojournalist

On March 6th, poachers shot and killed a rhino before sawing off its ivory horn with a chainsaw. Zookeepers visited the Rhino’s habitat the following morning and found the rhino dead, due to gunshot wounds.

The Zoo, located west of Paris in Thoiry, France, had been home to this four year old white rhinoceros nicknamed Vince. He was a popular animal of the African Animal Park Reserve. Sadly, he was found in his enclosure with three gunshot wounds to the head. During the night, Poachers snuck into the wildlife park through two locked gates and killed the rhino in his enclosure; they have not been caught for this illegal crime. However, authorities are currently investing the incident through the footage collected on the zoo’s security cameras. It is believed that this is the first attack of its kind in Europe. The motive was to obtain the rhino’s horn. A rhino horn on the black market can sell for up to $60,000 per kilo (1 kilo equals 2.2 pounds), making these horns a target (The Guardian). In Asia, there is currently a high demand for ivory because it is coveted as a traditional medicine and aphrodisiac. This has lead to the death of thousands of elephants and rhinos, leaving some populations on the verge of extinction.

The killing of Vince has brought global attention to the cruelty of exploiting animals for their ivory. Animal activists are speaking out after this horrific event. After finding out this tragic news, animal lover Angela Chuang (12) responded, “I was very upset to hear about this. I think it is terrible, absolutely terrible. I am not sure how someone could ever kill an animal. It even upsets me more that someone did this for profit. I hope that whoever committed this horrific crime is punished for his actions.” Along with rhinos, elephants are often victims to poachers because of their ivory tusks.

Following the attack, a Czech Zoo has stated they will soon begin sawing off the horns of its herd of twenty one rhinos. The animals will be placed under anesthesia before the horn is sawed off in order to avoid injury. This is one step to avoid further attacks on these creatures by poachers as for the rhinos lose their monetary value without a horn. In addition to this, many zoos around the world are increasing their security to avoid future attacks of any of the creatures.