A gang of masked men broke into the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin on Wednesday night and made off with four rhino heads.
Museum officials said in a press release that the thieves overpowered a security guard and tied him up. They then entered a storeroom and removed the heads. The heads had previously been on display but had been put into storage a year ago for fear of their being stolen.
The security guard was eventually able to free himself and notify police. So far no arrests have been made.
Rhino horns are especially prized in Asia where they are used in traditional medicines. Police estimate the street value of the horns to be about $650,000. Normally rhinos are poached in the wild and their horns are smuggled to their destination. This photo, courtesy the UK Home Office, shows two rhino horns found wrapped in cling film, concealed in a false sculpture. These were from a different crime. The rhino horns from the Dublin museum have not been found.
This raid may herald a new phase in rhino poaching. With poachers facing increased policing, and even firefights, at national parks and rhinos becoming hard to find thanks to their being hunted to the edge of extinction, some may turn to taking horns from natural history collections.
[Photo courtesy the UK Home Office]
A historic gun-running ship from Ireland’s struggle for independence has gone on display at Dublin’s National Museum of Ireland.
The Asgard was built in 1905 for Erskine and Molly Childers, leading Irish nationalists. In 1914, they used the vessel to run guns to the Irish Volunteers in Howth. The smugglers brought in 900 German Mausers and a stock of ammunition, some of which later saw use in the famous standoff at the Dublin General Post Office during the Easter Uprising.
Authorities learned of the shipment, but that helped turn it into a propaganda coup. The Asgard had slipped through a British fleet to make it to shore and Irish nationalists managed to spirit the guns away. The soldiers stationed nearby only managed to grab three guns, and had to return them because they had seized them illegally!
Tragically, when marching back to their barracks, the soldiers met an unarmed crowd that jeered them. One of the soldiers fired, and this led to more shots. Four civilians were killed, including one by bayonet wounds. The Asgard’s victory and bloody aftermath added more fuel to the fire of Irish nationalism.
Erskine Childers was a keen sailor all his life and wrote the classic spy novel “Riddle of the Sands,” in which two yachtsmen discover a sinister German plot in the Baltic Sea. Well worth reading!