Thieves have made off with a valuable black rhino head in Essex – prompting fears that its horns could be ground down and used in black-market Chinese medicines.
Burglars targeted Sworders Auctioneers, of Stansted Mountfitchet, on Monday evening after the firm posted details of the mounted object on the internet.
After forcing open doors to the premises, the thieves are believed to have fled with the rhino head via a nearby field.
The object has a price tag in excess of £50,000, but experts said the rhino head could be of far greater value if it is sold to the traditional medicine market.
The horn of the rhino was traditionally used in Chinese medicines as a cure for a range of ailments from gout to fever and rheumatism. It is not prescribed as an aphrodisiac, contrary to a common misconception.
Trading of rhino horns was banned in 1976 by signatories of the Convention of the International Trade in Endangered Species.
But the practice continues on the black market, with antique items sold for inflated prices then shipped out of the UK. A clampdown on exports of rhino horns was announced by the Government last year.
Pc Andy Long, wildlife and environment crime officer, said: “This seems to be a targeted burglary, and the thieves knew that the rhino horn was there.
“It is a valuable item in its own right but if sold to the traditional medicine market, it would have a much greater value.”
via £50,000 rhino head stolen – News – Mearns Leader.