Tuesday, January 6

The Irish Clan Behind Europe's Rhino-Horn Theft Epidemic


Here's a nice economics question for you. When supply is highly restricted, what should be the response of public policy? 

Compare the situation with rhino horns and say hard drugs. What does it tell you about the incoherence of public policy Vis a Vis demand and supply along with the legal responses? 



The Irish Clan Behind Europe's Rhino-Horn Theft Epidemic

When the phone rang at about 3 a.m. on April 18, Nigel Monaghan was asleep on the floor in his office in Dublin, tangled in a sleeping bag. In his job as Keeper of the National Museum of Ireland’s natural history section, he was overseeing filming of the latest episode of a children’s TV special, Sleepover Safari. Ten children, their parents, and a film crew were spending the night in the museum, known locally as the Dead Zoo, surrounded by Ireland’s foremost collection of taxidermy.

The call was from the museum’s central security office. Four stuffed rhino heads—ones Monaghan had sent away for safekeeping a year earlier—had been stolen from the museum’s storage facility near the airport. At 10:40 p.m., three masked men forced their way in, tied up the single guard on duty, and found the shelves where the heads were kept. The trophies were heavy and awkward. Expertly stuffed and mounted by big game taxidermists at the turn of the 20th century, they were monstrous confections of skin and bone, plaster and timber, horsehair and straw. When Monaghan and his team had come to move the largest—that of a white rhino shot in Sudan in 1914, with a horn more than three feet long—it had taken four men just to lift it down from the museum wall. But the burglars were undeterred, and soon they had every head in the back of their white van. They took nothing else, and within an hour they were gone.

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