Rhino horns burned in effort to raise awareness, stop poaching

Rhino horns burned in effort to raise awareness, stop poaching
San Diego Zoo Safari Park CEO Doug Myers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Chief Bill Woody burn $1 million worth of rhino horns Thursday at the park. Photo by Steve Puterski

ESCONDIDO  — More than one hundred state, federal and San Diego Zoo Safari Park officials were on hand Thursday in a united display to combat global poaching.

Zoo CEO Doug Myers spearheaded the event, which burned $1 million worth of rhino horns, powder and commercial products at the park.

It was one of the first such gestures in the U.S. with a goal of raising more awareness, education and updates on the fight to stop poachers and the black market trade.

Bill Woody, chief for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said black market prices are at about $30,000 per pound for rhino horns, which are consumed and used mostly in Asia and Africa. Thursday’s event meant about 33.3 pounds of contraband were wiped from the market.

Officials also detailed the dwindling rhino populations in Africa, which stem from demand from that continent and Asia, where individuals there believe the horns are used as medical tools and aphrodisiacs.

Woody said one in 20 rhinos were killed last year and the market for their horns and ivory leading to billions in revenue.

Wood also spoke about the efforts of Operation Crash, which netted 41 arrests and 30 convictions over the past year.

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