Museum removes rhinoceros horns


THE NATURAL History Museum has removed all of its rhinoceros horns from public display for fear criminals may be targeting the valuable artefacts. The two horns from a black rhinoceros dating from 1899 in Zimbabwe were removed last week after museums in Britain, Germany, France and Austria were recently targeted, one with a sledgehammer, another with stun gas.

The museum will replace the horns with fibreglass replicas. Four rhinoceros trophy heads with horns were removed from display last year. “We took the decision to remove the horns to reduce the risk of anybody wishing to target them. Our concern was the endangerment of our visitors and staff,” said Nigel Monaghan, keeper of the museum.

“The horns will be replaced by replicas as you cannot, with the museum’s stately-home setting, put in acres of bullet proof glass.”

A rhinoceros horn, made from keratin, is highly valued in Asian countries as it is used in traditional medicines. Estimates of the value vary from tens of thousands of euro to hundreds of thousands of euro. The museum also houses an elephant with large ivory tusks but it is not considered a security risk given they are of much less value.

Britain’s Natural Science Collections Association has urged museums to remove rhinoceros horns from display. A number of thefts of horns took place last year, including at Ipswich Museum.

Last month criminals distracted staff at the Ritterhaus Museum in Germany and removed a rhinoceros horn with a sledgehammer.

In December at the Museum of Hunting and Nature in Paris, staff were reportedly stunned by gas while a rhinoceros horn was removed.