The series of rhino horn threats is continuing in Europe after a rhino head was stolen from a pub in Weisskirchen in the Austrian province of Styria.
Landlord Hans-Peter Tavolato, 55, himself a passionate hunter had the 120 kilo heavy hunting trophy on show in a room in his pub. Tavolato shot the rhino himself 20 years ago on an African hunting trip. It had an estimated value of 4,000 Euros.
It was stolen from the pub and police suspect it was the rhino horn gang who have been stealing rhino horns throughout Europe over the past months.
Police suspect it took at least three people to take the rhino head down and make off with it.
Police report that a number of English speaking people were seen getting into a van with German licence plates in the same town shortly before the theft and are following up leads.
Only last week the latest investigations surrounding the “rhino horn mafia”, thought to be responsible for robberies in Austria and Germany has revealed that they may also have committed murder. According to German police the runaway trio are being investigated in relation to a murdered woman who may have witnessed their crime in Offenburg, Germany.
The thieves, who are suspected of stealing a rhino horn from the Dorotheum auction house in Vienna last year and two horns from the Ritterhaus Museum in Offenburg earlier this month, may be held responsible for the murder of 23-year-old Julia F.
Customers found the body of waitress Julia F. lying on the floor of the betting shop “Tipico” in Offenburg. The young woman had been stabbed to death and left covered in blood in the shop.
Investigators have argued that a robbery and murder only 90 metres from the Offenburg police headquarters was very unlikely. Only a week before however the nearby Ritterhaus Museum was broken into with two 50,000 Euro rhino horns being stolen. “The victim could have been a witness who needed to be got rid of,” explained a police expert.
A task force of 30 specialist police are currently after those responsible for the murder in the betting shop. “We are looking in all directions,” explained a spokesperson for Offenburg police.
The thieves who stole the 50,000 Euro rhino horns off the wall of the Ritterhaus Museum are thought to be the same as those who escaped in November 2011 with a rhino horn worth around 70,000 Euros in Vienna. Despite there being good photos of the accomplices the pair are yet to be caught. An increase in the price of horns, which are a valuable resource in traditional Asian medicine, has resulted in the recent increase of thefts.