For more proof that the crime of poaching knows no boundaries, the latest international poaching incident occurred early Tuesday in the Thoiry Zoo near Paris, France, as poachers broke through a gate at the facility, shot and killed a white rhinoceros for its horn and fled the scene. The crime marks Europe’s first ever poaching of a rhino in a zoo, showing the heights to which criminals will go to acquire a high-dollar black-market payoff.
In a news story posted by Reuters, and reported by media outlets worldwide including NBC’s Today show Wednesday morning, the law enforcement investigators said the rhino, a 4-year-old male that was brought to the zoo from the Netherlands in 2015, was found by the zookeeper. While the facility has surveillance cameras in place and five staff members live onsite, the poachers were able to break open the gate, force open the metal door to the rhino’s enclosure and shoot it three times in the head before removing one of its horns. Because the rhino’s second horn was partially cut, investigators believe the poachers were disturbed or that their equipment failed. The two other rhinos at the park were not harmed.
While international trade in rhino horn is banned by the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITIES)—and its sale is illegal in France—there remains a strong demand for it on the black market in Asian countries where it is coveted for use in traditional medicines. Reuters reports that French investigators said a kilo of rhino horn brought 51,000 euros--$53,900—on the black market in 2015 (conversion based on one U.S. dollar being equivalent to 0.9466 euros).
The Reuters article notes that the white rhino, once approaching extinction, today numbers 20,000 animals worldwide. This is thanks to the efforts of hunters and other conservationists. South Africa, which contains 80 percent of the population, says that while rhino poaching rates there rose from 83 animals in 2008 to 1,215 in 2014, poaching has decreased for the past two years.
As the world’s No. 1 conservationists, hunters are the first to protect and crack down on the exploitation of wildlife. Yet in my 30-plus years in the hunting industry, one of the most common misconceptions among non-hunters is that poachers are hunters—something promoted by anti-hunting extremists who seek unjustified ground to stand on in their efforts to put hunters in a bad light and end all hunting. So when the topic of poaching comes up with the non-hunters on your social media platforms, immediately call out the misconception and share this link to the NRAHLF.ORG fact sheet “Poaching Is Not Hunting:” https://www.nrahlf.org/articles/2016/3/20/poaching-is-not-hunting/
Explain that poachers are not hunters. Poachers are criminals who, by definition, do not follow the law.