Items Will be Burned at San Diego Zoo Safari Park to Raise Awareness of Wildlife Trafficking
Law enforcement officers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife displayed rhino horn materials, valued at $1 million on the black market, at the San Diego Zoo earlier today (Sept. 7, 2016). The rhino horn products, confiscated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, included ornate objects and items falsely marketed as medicinal. The purpose of the public display was to raise awareness of the worldwide wildlife trafficking and poaching crisis that is pushing rhinos toward extinction.
The public display—hosted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and San Diego Zoo Global—provided an opportunity for Zoo guests to see the confiscated items and learn about the devastating impact of wildlife trafficking before the items are destroyed. They will be set afire at an invitation-only rhino horn burn at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park on Thursday, Sept. 8. The event, the first of its kind in the nation, will send a message that wildlife trafficking will not be tolerated, and that these organizations, along with partners and countries around the world, will work together to end this threat to rhinos.
California is a hot spot for illegal efforts to sell trafficked rhino horn in the U.S. Illicit trade in wildlife is the fourth largest illegal trade in the world, after drugs, weapons and human trafficking. In the past decade, wildlife trafficking has escalated into an international crisis, and it has become a multibillion-dollar-per-year global criminal activity.
Currently, more than three rhinos are being killed, on average, per day in Africa for their horns. Rhinos have disappeared entirely from the vast majority of the continent. At this rate, it is a very real possibility that rhinos could become extinct in the next 15 years.