The horns of 18 rare rhinos at a zoo in Prague, Czech Republic will be sawed off as a precautionary measure to save them from poachers. The move follows an incident at a wildlife park near Paris, wherein poachers shot and killed an endangered white rhino and hacked off its horn.
Representatives at the zoo in the central Czech town of Dvur Kralove nad Labem said that the danger posed by the attackers is "really intense", hence the horns of the animals will be removed after giving them anaesthesia to protect them from poachers.
"It's for the sake of rhino safety. The attack [in France] put us on alert, the danger is really intense," said Andrea Jirousova, a spokesperson for the facility, according to the AFP.
"We have never done this because of poachers. We did it for other reasons like transport or health concerns," Jirousova added.
It is unclear when the horns of the animals will be removed. Of the herd of 21 rhinos currently at the zoo, officials said three of the calves would not have to undergo the procedure.
On 7 March poachers shot and killed a four-year-old male rhino at France's Thoiry and removed its horn, which is enormously prized in the black market.
The horns of the rhino are believed to possess traditional medicinal values in countries like Vietnam and China – where one kg of the horn is valued up to $60,000 (€56,400). The horns are also thought to be an aphrodisiac, but none of the claims have been scientifically proven.