African white rhino horn stolen from Italian Museum

Collection store at Zoological Museum and Comparative Anatomy of the University of Modena, from which the horn was taken.
Collection store at Zoological Museum and Comparative Anatomy of the University of Modena, from which the horn was taken.

Modena, Italy – an African white rhinoceros horn was stolen from Zoological Museum and Comparative Anatomy of the University of Modena. The theft took place Tuesday, January 20 2015 about 1pm.

The 5.1kg horn, valued at 300,000 Euro on the black market, was taken from the collection store, not long after being visited by a group of elementary school students, between 9.30 and 12.00 that morning. The specimen was not protected by alarm systems, only a camera on the outside of the building. Police were not notified for 24 hours after the theft occurred.

This comes hard on the heels of a media release on Thursday 11 December 2014 from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) citing a 30-fold increase in trafficking of African rhinoceros horn on the black market.

Experts say the demand for illicit rhino horn, which is worth as much as cocaine or gold, has caused African rhino numbers to shrink by over 90% since 1970. This event underscores the need for increased security in museums with rhinoceros horn and other valuable material. Museums must understand the value of the material they have, as well as the risk to their collections from insufficient security.

 

References:

Modena Today 22 January 2015
The Guardian 11 December 2014

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