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Rhino Shot Dead by Poachers at French Zoo

Animals
Rhino Shot Dead by Poachers at French Zoo
Photo credit: Parc Zoologique de Thoiry

A young white rhino was killed after being shot in the head three times by poachers who broke into the Thoiry Zoo in Paris Monday night. Poachers de-horned the 4-year-old rhino, named Vince, and left alive two other white rhinos, 37-year-old Gracie and 5-year-old Bruno. They left part of Vince's second horn, leading local police to believe they were ill-equipped or interrupted. The poachers are still at large.


"It is extremely shocking what just happened," Zoo Director Thierry Duguet said. "An act of such violence, never before seen in Europe."

White rhinos at the Parc Zoologique de Thoiry.Parc Zoologique de Thoiry / Facebook

Vince was discovered by his caretaker Tuesday morning. According to reports, the poachers forced open a gate and two doors to enter the rhinoceros building. They likely used a chainsaw to remove Vince's horns.

A trend of rhino horn thefts from private collections and museums in the past several years has led to increased concern among conservationists for captive rhinos, The Washington Post explained. These bold new attacks are a sign that "zoological facilities need to take serious measures to keep their rhinos safe," said Susie Ellis, executive director of International Rhino Foundation.

Crawford Allan, Senior Director of TRAFFIC North America, encourages zoos to immediately assess and increase their security and specifically recommended thermal imaging cameras and an increase in the number of security guards.

In other disturbing news, armed poachers in February 2017 attacked the staff of the Thula Rhino Orphanage in South Africa and killed two baby rhinos for their horns.

Rhinos at the Thula Thula Rhino OrphanageThula Thula Rhino Orphanage / Facebook

In 2016, 1,054 rhino killings were reported in South Africa. While this represents a modest decline from 1,175 in 2015, it is the fourth year in a row that more than 1,000 rhinos have been poached in South Africa.

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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