White rhino killed by poachers at French zoo

2017-03-07 21:19
An undated photo of Vince. (Domaine de Thoiry via AP)

An undated photo of Vince. (Domaine de Thoiry via AP)

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Versailles - Intruders at a French zoo have shot dead a white rhino and hacked off its horns in a grisly overnight poaching incident, police and the zoo said on Tuesday.

The perpetrators forced the main gate to Thoiry Zoo near Paris and broke through at least two other security barriers on Monday night, without disturbing five people who live on the grounds.

The animal, a four-year-old "critically endangered" southern white male named Vince, was attacked inside an area where at least two other rhinos are kept.

"Staff left the rhino enclosure on Monday. When they returned on Tuesday, an animal had been killed and its two horns had been sawn off," a police spokesperson told AFP.

She added that the horns were "probably cut off with a chainsaw".

The rhino had been shot three times in the head.

"Only the main horn was stolen," the spokesperson said.

Investigators estimate the horn is worth €30 000 to  €40 000 ($31 700 to $42 250).

Black market rhino horn sells for up to $60 000/kg - more than gold or cocaine - with demand principally coming from China and Vietnam, where it is coveted as a traditional medicine and aphrodisiac.

In the last eight years alone, roughly a quarter of the world's rhino population has been killed in South Africa, home to 80% of the remaining animals.

According to the zoo, this would be the first time a zoo was the target of an "attack" of this nature leading to the death of a rhino.

Thoiry Zoo is equipped with video surveillance, but cameras are not installed in the area where the rhinos live.

"This was carried out despite the presence of five members of staff who live on the site and [despite] security cameras," the zoo said.

The two other rhinos in the enclosure with Vince which were unharmed were a 37-year-old female, Gracie, and a five-year-old male, Bruno.

Read more on:    france  |  animals  |  rhino poaching

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