In a bid to curb the recent rise in the poaching of rhino horns in Europe, a zoo has resorted to sawing off the horns of the animals to protect them.
The zoo which is located in the city of Dvur Kralove in the Hradec Králové Region of Czech Republic said it has began the process and is taking no chances after the incident in Paris.
Poachers earlier this month broke into a wildlife park near Paris, killing a four-year-old white rhinoceros before sawing off its horn.
Acording to authorities who said the incident was the first of its kind in Europe, the animal was shot in the head and its large horn removed with a chainsaw.
The poachers were said to have fled before they could remove the animal’s second horn with the authorities saying it was either because they were disturbed or because their equipment failed.
The zoo in Dvur Kralove, about 150 km north-east of Prague, the capital city, has a total number of 21 rhinos: 17 black rhinos and four southern white ones, the largest collection of the animals in Europe.
The zoo’s head, Premysl Rabas, in a statement said:
“The decision to remove rhino horns was not made easily at all. However, the risk that the rhinos currently face not only in the wild but even in zoos is too high, and the safety of the animals is our first concern. A dehorned rhino is definitely a better option than a dead rhino.”
The first rhino to undergo the procedure on Monday was Pamir, a male southern white rhino. The zoo said the rhino was anaesthetised although the procedure itself is not painful.
Other rhinos are set to undergo the procedure in the near future. The horns are expected to gradually grow back.
A kilogram of rhino horn in 2015 fetched $53,900 on the black market. It is said to sell today for up to $60,000 per kilo – more than gold or cocaine.
United Nations convention banned the global trade in rhino horns although the demand for the horn is strong in Asian countries such as Vietnam.