Published: Wed, March 08, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

White rhino killed by suspected poachers at French zoo

White rhino killed by suspected poachers at French zoo

In the first case of its kind ever in Europe, the tragic four-year-old animal, named Vince, was found brutally slaughtered in Thoiry, west of the French capital.

Sudan, the last male Northern white rhinoceros who lives at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, has an armed security detail, and has had part of his horn removed to deter poachers. In South Africa, the number of rhinos poached jumped from 13 in 2007 to 1,215 in 2014, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Sources close to the investigation told Le Parisien that Vince's second horn had been partially severed, suggesting that the killers were planning to steal the horns of other animals but had to decamp before they could do so.

Rhino horns are extremely valuable with local media reporting that they can sell for in excess of €50,000 to the right buyer.

Park director Thierry Duguet called the killing "shocking" and "unbelievable".

He was living alongside two other rhinos at the park, 37-year-old Gracie and five-year-old Bruno.

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"Vince was found this morning by the keeper who was very attached to him and is deeply upset", the zoo announced on Facebook. Protection efforts were largely successful, with some 20,000 animals in protected areas and private game reserves - in fact, they're the "only rhinos that are not endangered". "Hundreds of white rhinos have been killed annually in recent years", the WWF says.

Vince was born in September 2012 at Burgers' Zoo in the Netherlands, according to The Independent.

It's believed the poachers broke into the zoo by breaking past an outer gate near the site's "African Plain" area, before breaking two more doors at the rhinoceros enclosure, staff said.

Rhinos have always been poached for their horns, largely to supply demand in Asia, where it is believed that rhino horn has medicinal and aphrodisiac properties. "It's a job for professionals".

"It is time countries outlaw the trade in ivory and horn as I have done in France".

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