A zoo in the Czech Republic has announced their plans to dehorn 18 of their rhino population after an incident at a zoo in Paris that resulted in the death of a rhino. The drastic step announced by Dvur Kralove zoo comes after the shocking incident in March 7 when poachers broke through the security barriers at a zoo in Paris and shot a rhino to steal its horns. This is the first incident of a rhino being killed at a zoo.
To prevent this from happening in their own grounds, the Dvur Kralove zoo has announced that they will anesthetise 18 of their 21 rhinos and remove their horns using a chainsaw to keep them safe. Other rhino owners and conservationists in Africa have also taken the drastic steps to save the animals.
Is It Safe For The Rhinos?
Rhino horns are mostly made of keratin, the very things that hair is made of. They are mostly used by rhinos to protect their territories and their young from other rhinos, and dehorning rhinos have been seen to reduce fighting-related deaths. So is it safe? After all, rhino horns do grow back.
As with most medical procedures, there are risks to dehorning rhinos especially during the operation where complications during the procedure may lead to the animal's death. If successfully done, though, the rhinos may retain normal functioning, and reduces the risk of being poached.
The question that many experts debate on is whether the rhinos may lose an integral part of their survival should they be dehorned. In the wild where all of them are fighting to survive, dehorning rhinos may limit their capability to protect their young and territory.
Does Dehorning Stop Poachers?
In this case and for most cases in the world, dehorning is a means to stop poachers from killing the animals for their own monetary gain in the black market. Poaching is illegal, which makes the rhino horns even more valuable to the poachers. When dehorning was first done in Namibia in 1989 to early 1990s, not a single poaching incident was recorded, which was a massive triumph for conservationists.
However, some dehorned rhinos are still poached in other areas of the world for various reasons such as to retrieve the horn stub that is left after dehorning, or simply out of vengeance.
What's important to conservationists now is to save the rhinos from poachers, especially when it looks like not even animals in captivity are safe from them.