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Security tightened after threat to rhinos

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.

"What we're worried about is criminals taking it to the next level. We've upped our night-time patrols, we doubled that straight away with our Keepers who live on site. We have to take this as a credible threat. You can get up to £200,000 for a rhino horn. It's used in Far Eastern medicine. It's claimed to have medicinal qualities, which is a nonsense."

– Bob O'Connor, managing director of Howletts and Port Lympne

There was anonymous information through Crimestoppers saying there was a possible attack on rhinos. We've spoken to all the owners of rhinos in the South East and they are taking measures to combat it. All our wildlife officers are aware of the information and we're taking steps to increase patrols in the area."

– PC Michael Laidlow, wildlife crime officer for Kent Police

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.

Poachers target rhinos at Kent wildlife park

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.

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Horned beast arrives at park

Asani the black rhino has safely arrived at Port Lympne Wildlife Park Credit: Aspinall Foundation

Keepers at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Kent had a special delivery recently when they welcomed Asani, a four year old black rhino to his new home. Asani travelled by road, in a journey lasting 8 hours, to arrive at his new home just outside Ashford.

Animal director Adrian Harland said: "Asani is settling in very well to his new home – he’s a very good looking rhino and I’m sure he will be popular with our female rhinos. He’s quite feisty, as a black rhino should be, so hopefully they won’t boss him around too much."

Early Halloween treats for meerkats

Meerkats get Halloween treats. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Meerkats at a wild animal park are being given treats from pumpkin-styled feeding buckets as part of a Halloween-themed enrichment programme.

The mammals have been delving into the bright-orange buckets and getting to grips with their favourite snacks, including crickets and mealworms, at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park near Hythe, Kent.

Meerkats get Halloween treats. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

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Pumpkin appeal for Meerkats

The mammals have been delving into the bright-orange buckets and getting to grips with their favourite snacks, including crickets and mealworms, at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park near Hythe, Kent.

We are always looking for new ways to encourage mental, physical and sensory perception to keep our residents occupied and happy. Enrichment is an important part of looking after animals at Port Lympne.

– Adrian Harland, Animal Director

Across the park, the Malayan tapirs tried out their skills at the popular Halloween-themed game of apple bobbing.

Fossa family settles in

Ikongo explores his new territory Credit: ITV Meridian

A pair of Fossas - a rare predator from the Island of Madagascar- are settling into their new at Port Lympne Animal Park in Kent. Ikongo and a female, named Sambava were born at the San Deigo Zoo and have moved to the garden of England to further a breeding programme.

The Fossas settle in Credit: ITV Meridian
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