By Kevin Heath
Many wildlife ranches in South Africa are dehorning their rhinos to try and stop them from being killed by poacher. Across the country rhino horn worth millions of dollars are stored on ranches and reserves. One of these rhino horn stockpiles has just been targeted and the thieves managed to escape with horn valued at $2.75 millions.
The raid which saw 66 rhino horns being stolen is one of the biggest horn thefts in south African history. The raid took place at the Leshoka Thabang Game Reserve in northern Limpopo province.
Johan van Zyl, owner of the game farm, explained that the 42kg of horn that was stolen would be worth about $65,000 a kilo on the streets of Hanoi.
The raiders broke into the farm offices on Wednesday night and used a blow torch to get access to the safe where the horns were stored.
The game reserve is licensed to remove horn from the rhinos that it keeps though the sale of horns is currently illegal. This has lead to a large stockpile of rhino horns being stored in the country.
Rhino horn will grow back when removed from the animal correctly but poachers will kill the animal to get to the horn as it is easier and quicker than sedating the animal.
Apart from dehorning rhinos the breeders are using other methods to deter poachers including injecting toxins and dies into the horn to make it unsaleable.
South Africa is also examining whether there is the potential for a controlled market in rhino horn.