Catholic Concern for Animals has called for a global ban to be declared on the ivory trade.
“The ivory trade needs to be banned totally around the world and in all countries,” Chris Fegan told The Universe, following reports that a rhinoceros had been shot in the head three times before having its horn sliced off with a chainsaw.
“This unforgivable activity caused devastation to not only individual and majestic animals but also for the various species themselves. For example around one third of Africa’s savannah elephants have been wiped out by poachers between 2007 and 2014 and we are now looking at the extinction of the African elephant in less than a generation due to poaching,” he continued.
“I am glad and very encouraged that the current UK Government has given election pledges in 2010 and 2015 to ban the ivory trade in the UK but they have yet to do so in reality. CCA calls for these pledges to be honoured immediately and for the disgusting ivory trade to be banned in the UK at once and in full.”
Keepers at Thoiry Zoo, some 30 miles west of Paris found Vince, a four-year-old white rhinoceros, bloodied and mutilated on the morning of Tuesday 7th March.
One or more poachers reportedly broke into the enclosure overnight where three rhinos were housed, the French daily Le Parisien reported.
The raid is said to be the first attack of its kind in Europe.
Thoiry Zoo said on its Facebook page that it believed the poachers were disturbed or that their equipment broke during the incident.
Mr Fegan condemned the incident and questioned the effectiveness of zoo security.
“The incident at Thoiry Zoo is horrendous and the continued poaching of ivory and horn is one of the most disgusting affronts to God’s creation that humans commit against animals,” he said.
“There are also questions to be asked about zoo security here, not only on this occasion but also elsewhere as the zoos around the world have a duty to protect the animals in their care. This is only the latest example in recent times where zoos have failed to do so and innocent animals have died solely due to zoo inefficiency in protecting them from intrusion and attack.”
Mr Fegan’s call for a global ban on the ivory trade has received support from the French environment minister, Segolene Royal.
“The killing of a rhinoceros at Thoiry is criminal,” he said. “It is time countries outlawed the trade in ivory and horn as I have done in France.” Meanwhile, cricketer Kevin Pietersen said the plight of Vince was very close to his heart.
He said rhino horns could fetch around £49,000 per kilogram on the black market.
The former England cricketer was speaking at an event to highlight a Kickstarter campaign aiming to raise £100,000 for a book on rhinos.
The book, Remembering Rhinos, aims to raise awareness of rhino poaching and to raise funds to protect the endangered species.
“It’s greed, it’s ego, it’s destruction of a species which some people don’t care about and don’t have the education and knowledge to see what they are doing,” he said.
“It breaks my heart to hear about something like that, a rhino should be incredibly safe in a Paris zoo. It should be incredibly safe in all zoos or sanctuaries.
“The commodity is there, it’s being traded and it’s brutal so people need to raise their game for the protection of these animals or in 20 years’ time my kids’ kids may never see a rhino.”
Pietersen, who played 104 Test Matches for England, was able to hand over a cheque for £18,000 towards the campaign, which he raised with his Australian team, the Melbourne Stars.
Picture: Kevin Pietersen hands a cheque to Margot Raggett, of Remembering Rhinos, for £18,000 raised with the Melbourne Stars. (Richard Peters/PA Wire).