Rhino head stolen from Essex auctioneer

Image caption,
The stolen rhino head was stolen from Sworders Auctioneers

A black rhino head worth more than £50,000 has been stolen from an auctioneers in Essex.

Thieves forced open doors to Sworder's Auctioneers in Stansted Mountfitchet on Monday evening and fled with the mounted rhino head via a nearby field.

Police said experts fear the rhino's horn could be ground down to use in black-market Chinese medicine.

The object has a price tag in excess of £50,000, but could be worth more sold to the traditional medicine market.

Trade banned

Pc Andy Long, wildlife and environment crime officer with Essex Police, 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."

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.

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.

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