Three rhinos are killed every day by poachers


Tony Fitzjohn

legendary conservationist who runs a rhino sanctuary in Tanzania

Tony Fitzjohn

“It is great that zoos burned their rhino horn stockpiles. I wholeheartedly support it. It is long overdue and I hope that more zoos and governments will do the same, along with using all their powers to pressurize the end-users. It is essential to reduce rhino horn consumption as much as possible and make people aware of the final extermination of the species that will result if this trade continues. Every step in restricting the trade and exposing the myths of its properties matters immensely and helps to protect and perpetuate rhinos here in Africa.”




Czech Republic

On 21st September at 11am (“at the eleventh hour”), the major burning of rhino horns took place in Zoo Dvur Kralove. Under armed customs supervision, the pile was ignited by a legendary conservationist Tony Fitzjohn who worked with George Adamson of Born Free fame and who runs a rhino sanctuary in Tanzania now. Tony Fitzjohn was accompanied by Monika Leova, Miss Earth Czech Republic 2013, who is of Vietnamese origin. The burning was organized under the auspices of the Czech Minister of Environment. The ministry destroyed rhino horn seized during an operation against illegal trafficking at the ceremony as well. The ceremony was witnessed by many other guests, speeches were delivered by the CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon and Member of European Parliament Pavel Poc who is a co-author of the EP resolution on wildlife crime. Representatives of the UN, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and many other organizations were present as well.

At the same day, Zoo Plzeň burned a symbolical amount of a horn of Indian rhino to support the appeal that any trade in rhino horn is unacceptable.

Also on 21st September, Zoo Zlín put an information booth in the garden and informed about the critical situation of rhinos as well as about the campaign to reduce demand in consumer countries.


The Slovak Republic participated in the campaign through its Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Finance (Customs Unit). On 21st September at 11am, Slovakia burned seized horns in Zoo Bojnice which is run as a public body controlled by Ministry of Environment.

At the same day and time, Zoo Bratislava joined the appeal by burning a symbolic amount of a horn of white rhino. Both zoos informed the public about the plight of rhinos, too.


On 22nd September, the Ol Pejeta Conservancy opened its rhino cemetery for all rhinos killed by poachers within the conservancy over the last years. Cairns were raised for each rhino killed by poachers.

Great Britain

On 21st September, Port Lympne Reserve burned two rhino horns from animals that died naturally in the reserve. A symbolic amount of ivory was burned as well.


The Singapore Zoo organized a month long Rhino conservation campaign called ‘Rhinos in Trouble – The ‘hornest’ truth’ from 20th September to 19th October 2014. The campaign started on 20th September with a Photography Exhibition-cum-Sale and a Public Seminar open to all. The exhibition showcased some fine art prints of photographs of the critically endangered Sumatran Rhinoceros that were donated to the Singapore Zoo by wildlife photographer Stephen Belcher. All these photographs were available for sale. All proceeds from the sale went towards Rhino conservation efforts in South East Asia. The Public Seminar on 20th September had speakers from TRAFFIC South East Asia and Wildlife Conservation Society - Vietnam Program. Wildlife photographer Stephen Belcher also spoke at the public seminar and shared his experiences in photographing the rarest Rhino, the critically endangered and elusive Javan Rhino in the wild. During the course of the month, education booths were set up around the Zoo to share awareness messages on the threats to Rhinos and the need to stop the demand for Rhino horn and horn products to ensure a safe future for the Rhinos in the wild. A special booth highlighting that Rhino horn is just keratin (material of human hair and nails) and does not have medicinal value was set up near the entrance of the Zoo. At this booth, visitors were requested to clip their nails as a pledge to not buy and use Rhino horn products. These nail clippings were used as an exhibit to raise awareness for Rhino conservation.


On Sunday 21st September, Zoo Tallinn prepared a programme for its visitors during which it burned a replica of rhino horn. Experts of the zoo delivered lectures about the situation of rhinos in the wild.


Zoo Doué-la-Fontaine supported the campaign symbolically and informed its visitors and followers by internet and other media channels. On Sunday 21st September, the zoo organized an animation programme on the plight of rhinos.


On Sunday 21st September, Zoo Wroclaw burned a symbolical amount of a horn of Indian rhino.

Why Do We Burn Horns?

Why the zoos decided to burn their rhino horns?

It is necessary to show clearly that the situation of rhinos in the wild is critical and that it is the demand for rhino horn what drives them towards extinction.

Burning itself was a symbolic event that calls on everyone to re-cosider consequences of her/his behaviour. By buying rhino horn you fund criminal gangs and poachers. As a consequence of smuggling and trading in rhino horn, the rangers are killed, innhabitants of poor African regions are terrorized and beautiful animals are destined to suffer cruel death. All of this despite the fact that rhino horn has no properties that it is believed to have. Its consistency is similar to consistency of human nails or hair.

Has anyone ever burned rhinoceros horns in the past?

Yes. Probably the first public burning was of some 270 horns in Kenya in January 1990, as a symbolic protest against the trade in endangered animal species. This horn-burning, which was organized by famed anthropologist and conservationist Richard Leakey, took place in the same place where Kenya’s president Daniel arap Moi had burned 12 tons of ivory six months earlier. It was a risky decision, but as a result Kenya was able to convince a majority of the world’s countries to ban the international trade in ivory – a ban that has led to an increase in the number of elephants in Africa. In the case of horns, besides the international ban on the rhino horn trade adopted in the 1970s, an important and major role was played by the later adoption of domestic bans in important consumer countries such as Yemen, Taiwan, and China. In some of these places, the destruction of horns was part of the successful campaign against the rhino horn trade.

Instead of burning rhinoceros horns, wouldn’t it be better to sell them and to use the earnings for the protection of rhinos in the wild?

The sale of rhinoceros horns is a criminal act, because trading in horns is strictly forbidden. What is more, doing so would completely contradict the mission of zoos and nature reservations, because such sale would only increase demand and thus contribute to the further killing of wild rhinoceroses.

Wouldn’t it help to legalize the trade in rhinoceros horns?

The trade in rhinoceros horns was legal in the past, and that period can only be called a period of slaughter during which thousands and tens of thousands of rhinoceroses were killed. It wasn’t until after the ban on the international rhino horn trade and especially after domestic bans in important consumer countries that the numbers of certain rhinoceros species could be stabilized.

Permitting the trade in rhinoceros horns would not reduce demand, as some people erroneously believe, but would increase demand and thus lead to the even greater killing of rhinoceroses. Merchants and traffickers would try to sell as much as possible, meaning that they would advertise their goods and try to get as many customers as possible to buy them. For instance, in recent years they came up with the entirely unfounded claim that rhinoceros horns are an effective treatment for cancer. What is more, legalization would cause some people to believe that there is nothing wrong in consuming rhinoceros horns.

The domestic ivory trade in China is a clear example that legal sellers are merely a front for the sale of an enormous amount of ivory illegally acquired through poaching, and that legal sales do not reduce demand but increase it. In all likelihood, the legalization of the rhino horn trade would have the same effect – the demand for rhinoceros horns would increase and might result in the eventual extinction of rhinoceroses.

Unlike elephants, rhinoceros horns can be cut off, after which they grow back. Might it not be possible to satisfy demand by legalizing the sale of horns from rhinoceroses raised on farms?

The demand for rhinoceros horns is too great (and would only increase with legalization) to be satisfied through rhinoceroses raised on farms. This would inevitably lead to the legal trade networks being infiltrated by poachers and smugglers who would be able to supply horns from illegally hunted rhinoceroses at a lower price that breeders.

In addition, in the case of legalization, customs officers and other government agencies would find it very difficult to differentiate between legal and illegal rhinoceros horns, and traffickers would find it relatively easy to pass off horns acquired through poaching as legal. In such a situation it would be difficult for the responsible institutions to identify and punish poachers and traffickers.

What, then, is the road to saving rhinoceroses?

Above all, we need to limit demand in countries where people buy rhinoceros horns – today, this means China and Vietnam in particular. At the same time, we must put pressure on the countries with the highest consumption of rhino horns to enforce existing laws and to take effective measures to halt the trade in rhinoceros horns. Another important measure is to reduce corruption in the source countries and transit countries, and in the countries where rhino horns are illegally sold.

Why are rhino horns being burned in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and other European countries? Isn’t this a problem in Africa, China and Vietnam?

Zoological gardens such as the Dvůr Králové Zoo and the Port Lympne Reserve have been successful at keeping rhinoceroses outside of Africa, and have even managed to return bred rhinoceroses to places in Africa where they had previously been hunted to extinction. It is important to us that our work not be in vain.

In addition, citizens of the Czech Republic and other European countries have been involved in the killing of rhinoceroses as well. For instance, Czech hunters go to Africa to kill rhinoceroses as trophies. In the Czech Republic, they then sell the horns to criminal gangs that smuggle them to Asia. This feeds demand, which then leads to the further killing of rhinoceroses in the wild.



ZOO Dvůr Králové

Czech Republic

The zoo is one of the most successful rhino breeders outside of Afica. In total, 51 rhinos (four species) have been born in the zoo (number is correct for the year 2014). Most of the newborn rhinos are of the critically endangered eastern black rhino subspecies. In 2009, the zoo shipped three black rhinos to Tanzania. They produced offspring two years later and next one in summer 2014. The zoo is the only animal park where the northern white rhino has ever bred in captivity. In 2009, the zoo collaborated with its partners to transfer four northern white rhinos to Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya, in hope to prompt their breeding.

The Slovak Republic and Zoo Bojnice


The Slovak Republic decided to officially join the Burn Horns appeal through its Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Finance (Customs Unit). Slovakia burned rhino horns that were seized during operation against illegal smuggling of rhino horn. The burning took place in Zoo Bojnice which is run as a public body controlled by Ministry of Environment. Zoo Bojnice is the oldest and locally most well-known zoo.

Port Lympne Reserve and Howletts WAP

Great Britain

Port Lympne and Howletts are private animal parks in Kent owned by The Aspinall Foundation, both focused on helping animals to survive in their original habitat. As one of the best black rhino breeders outside of Africa, Port Lympne sent two black rhinos to Tanzanian Serengeti in 2007 a three black rhinos to Mkomazi in 2012.

Ol Pejeta Conservancy


Ol Pejeta is East Africa’s Largest Black Rhino Sanctuary, the only place in Kenya to see chimpanzees and holds some of the highest predator densities in Kenya. In 2009, four out of the last eight then remaining northern white rhinos were transferred to Ol Pejeta from ZOO Dvůr Králové. The conservancy is a not-for-profit organization that works to conserve wildlife, provide a sanctuary for great apes and to generate income through wildlife tourism and complementary enterprises for re-investment in conservation and community development.

Mkomazi Rhino Sanctuary and George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust


Mkomazi rhino sanctuary is one of a few places hodling rhinos in Tanzania. It is run by legendary Tony Fitzjohn who assisted George Adamson in reintroducing lions and leopards back into the wild. He took over Mkomazi, then devastated by poaching and grazing, in late 1980s and since 1997 he has directed the conservation programme for black rhinos. George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust is a major supporting organization to the sanctuary.

Zoo Singapore


Since 1973, Singapore Zoo has been known for having among the most beautiful wildlife park settings in the world, where animals roam freely in open and naturalistic habitats. Over 1.6 million visitors come to Singapore Zoo every year and it is often rated as the most favourite zoo in Asia. The zoo runs a wide range of programmes on wildlife conservation and the preservation of biodiversity. The zoo holds a white rhino.

Bioparc - Zoo de Doué-la-Fontaine


Zoo de Doué-la-Fontaine is a private zoo that has been run by one family for more than 50 years. It lies close to the Loire Valley in an abandoned rock quarry. The unique location provides a completely immersive experience to zoo's visitors and helps the zoo to be rated among the most beautiful animal parks in Europe. The zoo runs conservation projects around the world and currently (2014) holds black rhinos.

Zoo Tallinn


Zoo Tallinn is the only zoological garden in Estonia and it is the most visited zoo in the Baltic states as well. The zoo keeps black rhinos.

Zoo Bratislava


Zoo Bratislava is the only zoological garden in Slovakia that has ever kept rhinos. It started with their breeding in 1986 and currently (2014) holds a pair of southern white rhino - male Niko and female Ada.

Zoo Plzeň

Czech Republic

Zoo Plzeň is the only zoological garden in the Czech Republic that currently (2014) breeds Indian rhino. In February 2014, the zoo gained a great achievement - its female Manjula gave birth to a baby female Maruška.

Zoo Wroclaw


Wroclaw zoo is one of the oldest zoos in Europe, it was founded in the year 1865. The zoo is very popular in Poland and it belongs among the most innovative European zoos at present. It has Indian rhinos, currently (2014) in a new pavilion that was open to public in 2012.

Zoo Zlín

Czech Republic

Zoo Zlin is the most visited touristic place of the whole Morava. It holds two southern white rhino females and one male (2014).


Richard Leakey

famed Kenyan anthropologist and conservationist who pioneered burning ivory and rhino horn stockpiles and dramatically reduced poaching in Kenya

“The public burning of rhino horn is a very worthwhile demonstration of the crisis facing rhino world wide. Intelligent, educated people world wide recognize that horn from this critically endangered animal is worthless. Burning it and ridiculing those who value it is an excellent idea.”

Jane Goodall

world famous primatologist and UN Messenger of Peace

“I commend Zoo Dvur for its action in publicly burning the horns of its deceased rhinos. This action will raise public awareness of the slaughter of wild rhino in order to trade their horns. The plight of wild rhinos – and elephants as well – is dire, and it is up to each and every one of us to help to try and end the hideous massacre.”

Thu Minh

famous Vietnamese pop-singer

“Vietnam is well-known as a nice and friendly country. But in Africa I experienced how horrible things we cause to rhinos due to consumption of their horns. In Vietnam, we have to understand that for the future of rhinos and for the honor of our country we must stop buying rhino horn. The only way forward is to keep rhinos alive, not to trade with their body parts.”

Ian Craig

founder of the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya

“As Conservationists across the world strive to secure species and habitats against the increasing pressures of human greed, Zoos have a vital role to play in sharing this information with the public. The plight of wildlife passes quickly through the press whilst Zoos hold the continuity of the message. The farsighted decision and leadership of Zoo Dvur Kralove and its partners to publicly destroy their stocks of Rhino horn sends a clear message, dispelling the myth of Rhino horns medicinal value and emphasises how this baseless belief is driving a species to extinction.”

Monika Leová

Miss Earth Czech Republic 2013

“I have to admit that this is quite personal theme for me. I know from my close relatives that belief in the properties of rhino horn is still present in our culture, although in reality rhino horn has not such effects. It is necessary to show that buying rhino horn is just waste of money that leads to killing of rhinos. I believe that Vietnam, the country of my predecessors, has a unique chance to help to save these beautiful animals.”

Tony Fitzjohn

legendary conservationist who
runs a rhino sanctuary in Tanzania

“It is great that zoos burned their rhino horn stockpiles. I wholeheartedly support it. It is long overdue and I hope that more zoos and governments will do the same, along with using all their powers to pressurize the end-users. It is essential to reduce rhino horn consumption as much as possible and make people aware of the final extermination of the species that will result if this trade continues. Every step in restricting the trade and exposing the myths of its properties matters immensely and helps to protect and perpetuate rhinos here in Africa.”

Pavel Poc

Member of European Parliament and co-author of the EP resolution on wildlife crime

“When it comes to the burning of the rhino horns, I have heard many arguments against it, typically those centred around the idea that the horns could be sold and the profits should be used for the very protection of rhinos. Obviously, it sounds tempting, but unfortunately this is not how the things work in today's world. Opening of the legal trade with the rhino horns encourages attempts to legalize the rhino horns on the black market and escalates poaching. Indeed, we have already witnessed similar situation in the case of ivory. For me, the value of such an action, inter alia, is that the very people, who could have legal profits from such business, destroy the rhino horns in order to draw attention to the fact that any trade with the rhino horns is unacceptable.”

Richard Brabec

Minister of Environment of the Czech Republic

Azzedine Downes

CEO and President of the International Fund for Animal Welfare

“The Czech government and Dvůr Králové should be saluted for taking a firm and public stand on rhino horn trafficking. We have lost 769 rhinos so far this year, and there is no indication that the rhino poaching crisis is coming under control. Not only are rhino deaths continuing, but the rhino trade is undercutting law and order in range states and enriching organized crime syndicates – the slaughter of rhinos must be stopped. Some have suggested legalizing the rhino horn trade to end poaching. We share the belief of all those involved in this rhino burning initiative that there is nothing sustainable about the current rhino crisis. IFAW’s report, Horn of Contention, shows that economic models do not support legalising trade as a method to stop poaching. We call on others who have rhino horn to destroy their stocks and show the world that trade in rhino horns is unacceptable.”

Mary Rice

Executive Director of the Environmental Investigation Agency

“For the proponents of wildlife trade, the destruction of stockpiled rhino horn is anathema. But history teaches us that securing a future for rhino in the wild requires a determined and visionary step which Zoo Dvur Kralove and its partners are taking. By publically destroying the stock, a very clear and unequivocal message is being relayed: rhino horn has no value except for the animal to which it once belonged; the custodians of those rhino will never attempt to sell this horn. We applaud this action which will ensure that the remains of these animals are put beyond the use or access of the criminal networks who use increasingly sophisticated methods and scams to prey on people who put misguided faith into the efficacy of horn as a viable medicine. EIA fully endorses this initiative, and other than horns required for law enforcement and training purposes, we would further encourage zoos around the world to do the same, and particularly in Europe in keeping with EU regulations.”

Simon Tonge

Chairman of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria

“The conservation crisis that has arisen for rhinos during the Twenty-first Century is one of the great tragedies of our times. Five ancient and remarkable species cling to existence in Africa and Asia and their future is entirely in human hands. If short-term greed and cruelty win then within our lifetimes there may be no wild rhinos left on our planet. We cannot let this happen, and I commend the actions of the Zoo Dvur Kralove, and their partners in the Czech Government, in destroying stocks of rhino horns held in their country. Anything that reinforces the message that rhino horn is merely keratin that has no absolutely medicinal value is a worthwhile and practical response. Good luck with the campaign!”

Vladimir Spitsin

President of the Eurasian Regional Association of Zoos and Aquaria

“As the president of the Eurasian association of zoologiclal gardens and aquaria, I fully support the campaign of Dvur Kralove Zoo to raise awareness on the critical situation of rhinos during which the zoo is going to burn its rhino horn stockpiles.”

Gerald Dick

Director of the World Association of Zoos and Aquaria

"We support rhino conservation and your event."

Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic

Scientific Authority of CITES in the Czech Republic

“We would like to express our support for burning of rhino horn stockpiles in the possession of the ZOO Dvur Kralove. We are grateful for your contibution to the effort at breaking the growing market with rhino horns and we hope that the campaign will reach public worldwide and especially in range states and in consumer countries. You are welcome to share our endorsement to the Burn Horns campaign in public space. Our support belongs to the organizations that are considering taking part in the campaign or are actively involved in it already as well.”

Czech Environmental Inspectorate

government enforcement institution involved in the control of international trade in endangered species

“The Czech Environmental Inspectorate as a government enforcement institution involved in the control of international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora would like to express the support for the campaign Burn Horns and especially for burning rhinoceros horns which will be held at the ZOO Dvůr Králové. CEI deals with the investigation of cases illegal trade in rhino horns. The Czech Republic has recently become a country that is a considerable contributor to this illegal trade and through which rhino horns are smuggled to Asian countries. Unfortunately the number of these cases is still growing. CEI in cooperation with the Customs Administration and the Police makes a big effort to uncover a wide range of these cases. Demonstrative and symbolic burning rhinoceros horns from stockpile of zoo and confiscated horns too on the occasion of the Rhino World Day is very beneficial steps that will contribute to public awareness of this problem and can help to a greater awareness of the work of Czech enforcement authorities too.”

Paula Kahumbu

Executive Director of Wildlife Direct

“This is a great project. I think that what Zoo Dvur Kralove is doing is fantastic and you have our full support. Congratulations.”

Stop Ivory

“It is great to see this going ahead. Stop Ivory wholly supports what Dvur Kralove Zoo and their partrners are doing and we are more than happy to say so.”

Krkonoše Mountains National Park Administration and Europarc ČR

“We would like to join the appeal of Zoo Dvur Kralove to both global and Czech public to stop taking part in any futher destroying of last populations of critically endangered animals as the rhinos are.”



Tell your friends and relatives about consequences of the trade in rhino horn as well. By any purchased piece of rhino horn you help to finance criminal gangs that torture alive rhinos by cutting their horns off; that kill rangers; that frighten and terrorize communities near wildlife reserves; that bribe officers; that lie to their customers about rhino horn properties.

Support organizations that take effective measures to save rhinos and reduce the demand in consumer countries.

Push your politicians to take wildlife crisis seriously and stand up in defence of the wild animals. In this regard, even small countries can be of important voice on international fora. We are loosing not only rhinos, but elephants, lions, cheetahs and many other stunningly beautiful species as well.