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The Aspinall Foundation, which runs two wildlife parks in Kent, is appealing for volunteers to help guard its herds of black rhino, after being warned by police that its parks are being targeted by poachers. It is believed to be the first time they have plotted raids in the UK.
Black rhino are critically endangered and have been hunted to the brink of extinction in the wild. Poachers are thought to have targeted the Port Lympne and Howletts Wild Animal Parks in Kent, as home to one of the world's most important collection of black rhinos, outside Africa.
Mr Aspinall said he would also like to ask visitors to Howletts and Port Lympne to report any suspicious behaviour to staff and volunteers. The Aspinall Foundation is one of the most successful breeders of black rhino. In the last seven years, the foundation has seen 33 successful births.
Security has been stepped up at wildlife parks in Kent in response to a plot to hunt rhinos. Police were tipped off that the animals are set to be targeted at Howletts and Port Lympne animal parks.
Poachers in Africa regularly shoot rhinos to make off with their horns, which are highly valued for alternative medicine in parts of Asia. The parks have called for volunteers to help them carry out 24-hour patrols, while police have also stepped up surveillance.
Rhino horn is worth £65,000 a kilo, which makes it more valuable than cocaine, heroin and gold. Two men were jailed after a failed bid to steal a rhino head from a museum in Norwich in February last year.
There are 20 black rhinos at the parks, out of just 45 in the whole of Europe.
A wildlife park in Kent is being targeted by animal poachers. The Aspinall Foundation which runs the Port Lympne Wild Animal Park says they've recieved a warning from the police over their world famous herds of black rhino.
The park is home to the most important collection of black rhinos, outside Africa. It's believed to be the first time that poachers have plotted raids in the UK.