Valuable black market items made from rhino horns on display at San Diego Zoo

Items to be burned by officials
Posted at 6:04 PM, Sep 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-07 21:04:55-04

SAN DIEGO - The San Diego Zoo and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service are burning more than $1 million worth of items to protect rhinos.

Cole Schaefer of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said there is a 3,000 percent increase in the trade of rhino horns on the black market.

"It's devastating," said Schaefer. "If you see any of the raw footage of poachers going in and hacking out the horn while the animal is still alive, you can't help but be affected by that."

On Wednesday, the Zoo displayed more than $1 million worth of items confiscated during several investigations around the world. The items ranged from actual horns, artwork carved from horns, and medicines that included ground rhino horn.

Schaefer said in Vietnam "they'll take shavings off [the horn] to put into a liquid. It's purportedly for a hangover cure the next day … The animal is being slaughtered for its horn for a hangover cure; it's disgusting."

A rhinoceros' horn weighs between one and three kilograms, or 2 to 6 pounds. Schaefer said one kilogram sells for roughly $60,000.

"It's more valuable than gold or cocaine," she said.

Fish & Wildlife Service and Zoo officials plan to burn the items at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park Thursday to further raise awareness for wildlife trafficking.