“Many people cannot understand why destroying is the best thing to do with the rhino horns. When we burned ivory in Kenya at the end of the 1980's, its price dropped rapidly in about half a year as the demand for it was dramatically reduced. Apparently, people have already begun to realize that the cost for purchasing ivory items is animal lives," said Richard Leakey during the ceremony.
The Burn Horns Save Rhinos campaign was organised by the Dvur Kralove Zoo in collaboration with the Customs Administration of the Czech Republic for the second time. In 2014, more than 50 kilograms were destroyed here. "If we do not fight the trade in rhino horn, the time will come soon when rhino completely disappears from our planet. By burning rhino horn we want to send the world a clear message that horns belong to rhinos and not to people" said the director of the Dvůr Králové Zoo Přemysl Rabas at the beginning of the ceremony.
The Dvůr Králové Zoo conducts long-term efforts to save rhinos in the wild and wants to bring attention to the plight of rhinos worldwide. The zoo´s attempts were supported by presence of renowned conservationists on Tuesday. Apart from Richard Leakey, the pile was ignited by Veronika Varekova, a Czech model as well as a Member of the African Wildlife Foundation board of trustees, and Paula Kahumbu, a Kenya’s prominent conservationist.
"We meet today for one simple reason - to show that the Czech Republic can be an important player in the field of nature conservation. While in South Africa in these days, unfortunately, the first legal auctions of horns are taking place, we are destroying the rhino horn to symbolically point out that the trade in rhino horn is totally meaningless. I thank the Dvůr Králové Zoo for what it does,“ said Veronica Varekova during her speech.
The killing of rhinoceroses is a direct consequence of high demand for and trade in horns. Although it has been scientifically proven that the use of rhino horn has no curative effects attributed to it, it is still highly valued in the East Asian markets. Also, the situation is complicated by the fact that the ban on domestic trade in rhino horns has been lifted in South Africa.
“We have already seen the damage a legal market can do with the elephant ivory trade over the past 25 years,” said Veronica Varekova on behalf of the African Wildlife Foundation. “The legal trade has muddied the waters for law enforcement combating illegal ivory trafficking, while removing the stigma once attached to owning, buying and selling ivory. This strategy has ultimately proven ineffective in stopping elephant poaching, and there is no reason to expect a different outcome for Africa’s rhino.”
"Share your photos and videos on social networks to pass on the report of today's event. The Burn Horns Save Rhinos campaign, which we are all part of today, can help stop the slaughter of rhinos. We will be sending this message together to the world,” pronounced her wish Paula Kahumbu, one of the most influential conservationist in Kenya.
Jane Goodall, Thu Minh, Ian Craig, Monika Leova and others supported the rhino horn burning in the Dvůr Králové Zoo as well.