Animal stories can’t always be about exciting whale videos or pregnant giraffes. Sometimes, reality has to rear its ugly head. After all, iconic species like rhinos and elephants are increasingly threatened by poaching and habitat loss in the wild.
This week, poachers in Europe and Africa made two particularly notable kills in what should’ve been safe spaces for wildlife.
Just outside Paris, assailants broke into the wildlife park at Thoiry Zoo overnight. They shot Vince, a 4-year-old white rhinoceros, three times in the head before using a chain saw to remove its horn, Thierry Duguet, the zoo’s director, told the Associated Press on Tuesday.
Rhino horns are extremely valuable, and can be sold for up to 40,000 euros, or about $42,200, on the black market, the Le Parisien newspaper reported. Some cultures believe the horns have aphrodisiac powers or medicinal benefits.
Elephant tusks are similarly coveted around the world, despite global efforts to halt the illegal flow of ivory.
On Monday, poachers killed one of Africa’s oldest and largest elephants in a Kenyan national park. The killing illustrates the peril that elephants face due to the ivory trade.
Satao II, believed to have been about 50-years-old, belonged to a dwindling group of giant “tuskers.” Their ivory teeth are so long they nearly scrape the ground, and only about 25 of these tuskers remain in the world, Richard Moller of the Tsavo Trust told AFP this week.
“They are icons, they are ambassadors for elephants,” he said.
It’s still unclear how poachers killed the elephant, though they may have shot it with a poisoned arrow. The tusker was roaming in the Tsavo National Park near Nairobi when he died.
Kenyan authorities apprehended two poachers believed to be responsible for the elephant’s killing.
In Paris, however, police are still investigating the brazen rhino killing, and the suspects remain at large, AP reported.
And now, back to fun animal videos: