Zoo Poaching: Grim Reminder of Rhino Crisis

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Rhino killing at Thoiry Zoo underscores the crisis rhino in the wild are facing

Earlier this week, poachers reportedly broke into a zoo in Thoiry, France, killing a 4-year-old white rhinoceros and removing its horn. The following is a statement from Philip Muruthi, vice president for species protection at the African Wildlife Foundation, in response to the news.

We are always horrified when poaching incidents occur, but that this killing took place in the protected, enclosed environment of a zoo only adds to the depravity of the situation. Unfortunately, this is the environment in which we currently exist, where criminal gangs stop at nothing—including breaking into a zoo—to profit from rhino horn.

This incident underscores the emergency faced by rhino in the wild. And it should serve as a wake-up call to governments in both supply and demand countries that complacency about the illegal rhino horn trade is not an option. In this sensitive time, it is dangerous to contemplate any actions that may confuse the issue, such as allowing the sale of rhino horn on a legal market.

The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) will continue to work with our partners on the ground in Africa to protect critical populations of both white and black rhino and in Asia to curb demand. In addition, through our detection dog program and prosecutorial trainings, we are working to ensure that African law enforcement officers have the resources they need to do their jobs. We call upon their governments to support them in these efforts.