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Dublin: 10 °C Tuesday 21 October, 2014

Stolen rhino horns were removed from exhibition ‘due to risk of theft’

The horns were stolen from the archives in Dublin on Wednesday night by three masked men.

The hornless rhino on display at the Natural History Museum.
The hornless rhino on display at the Natural History Museum.
Image: Elaad Yair via Flickr

RHINO HEADS AND horns stolen from the National Museum Archive in Dublin on Wednesday night had originally been removed from display and placed in storage because the museum had concerns about the possibility of theft, it has emerged.

On Wednesday night, a security guard at the archive was tied up by three masked men who loaded up the rhino heads and horns, which have a total estimated value of about €500,000.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, head of collections at the National Muesum, Raghnall O’Floinn said that about a year and a half ago, the museum suspected there could be plans to steal the horns, which were on display at the Natural History Museum on Kildare Street.

“There were a number of people acting suspiciously around the museum and at the time there had already been around 50 or 60 thefts in Britain and elsewhere so we decided it was best to remove them from exhibition”, he said.

“The four mounted rhino heads that were on the rails were removed and we also had a large rhino on exhibition which we took the horn from because it would have been impossible to remove the entire thing.”

A sign in the museum apologising for the appearance of the hornless rhino tells visitors that horns have been removed “due to risk of theft”. It goes on to explain the “growing problem in museums as rhino horn is poached in the wold and stolen from museums and private collections in order to be sold illegally for medicinal properties”.

(Image: Elaad Yair/ Flickr)

Just last month police in the UK warned wildlife parks that they are being targeted by rhino poachers who had started to plot raids.

“In other museums that have a full rhino with the horn attatched people have gone in with sledgehammers to remove it and they’ve no interest in the rest of it,” O’Floinn said.

O’Floinn said thieves have even been known to steal replica horns that have replaced the real specimens, despite signage in the museums to indicate they’re not real.

“Obviously the trade is so lucrative that people are prepared to go to any extreme to get them, “he said.

The Natural History Museum is now in the course of putting replicas in place for the hornless rhino on display at the exhibition.

(Image: Elaad Yair/ Flickr)

Read: Rhino heads and horns stolen from Dublin museum archive>
Read: British wildlife parks being targeted by rhino poachers>

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