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Swiss museum saws horns off stuffed rhinos to prevent theft

Lisa Schaeublin / Natural History Museum of Berne via AFP-Getty Image

A taxidermist removes the horn off of stuffed rhinoceros at the Natural History Museum of Berne (NMBE) on December 20.
Upset by the growing theft in the European museums, the Natural History Museum of Berne has decided to remove the horns of their six stuffed rhinoceros and replace them with wooden dummy horns.

Lisa Schaeublin / Natural History Museum of Berne via AFP-Getty Image

A painter completes the replacement with a wooden horn on the stuffed rhinoceros.

By NBC News, msnbc.com staff and wire reports

LONDON — The demand for rhino horn in Asia, where some see its ground-up powder as an aphrodisiac and even cancer-curing medicine, has driven prices to nearly $50,000 a pound — and with it a new type of crime: thieves breaking into museums and auction houses to tear the horns off stuffed specimens.

At least 30 such thefts have taken place across Europe in the last year. "The style of the offenses has taken us by surprise and the fact that they're still continuing today," Scotland Yard Detective Ian Lawson told NBC News .

Read the full story on the continuing thefts of rhino horns from museum and the efforts to prevent them here.

In museums across Europe, rhinoceros horns have been the target of thieves at least 30 times this year, as they go for $99,000 per kilo. Europe NBC's Jim Maceda reports.

 Related story: Moving rhinos out of a European zoo and back to Africa, for their survival