It’s World Rhino Day! On 22nd September every year, people around the world spend the day celebrating all five of the Rhino species. Sadly, it’s also a day to remember and reflect on the way these beautiful animals became endangered.
Sadly, very few rhinos survive outside of national parks and reserves due to persistent poaching and habitat loss over the decades. Only two species of Rhino exist in Asia, the Javan and Sumatran. They’re both critically endangered and a subspecies of the Javan was declared extinct in 2011.
It’s no surprise to hear that Rhinos are hunted for their horns. Not only are they used as an ingredient in Traditional Chinese Medicine, ‘treating’ various ailments including fever, gout and other disorders. These horns are even being used to create an aphrodisiac. It’s a shock to hear that they’re also used as a ‘symbol’ of status and wealth.
Poachers are recruited by criminal gangs. They take advantage of the very low-income locals and offer them too much money to turn down. The opportunity to earn these amounts is life changing for them, so they often don’t think twice about taking these innocent lives. The poaching is barbaric and incredibly traumatic. Poachers tranquilise the Rhino with a gun, and whilst the Rhino is down, they brutally hack off the horn. They leave the Rhino to wake up, and slowly and painfully bleed to death.
It’s almost impossible to believe that at the start of the 20th Century, there were over 500,000 Rhinos living in the wild. Today, there are just 30,000.
The declining numbers are a result of human activity in their areas. Not only is poaching having a major impact on survival rates, habitat loss is a factor too. More and more land is being cleared for agriculture and this is leaving less available space for Rhinos to live. They need a large area to feed and roam, and it’s dwindling by the day. Smaller isolated areas are prone to inbreeding, and prone to rapid spread of disease. Successful breeding is declining, and this is a massive risk to the survival of the Rhino.
Protecting the Rhino isn’t only important for them, they actually play a crucial role in our ecosystem. They’re important grazers and consume large amounts of vegetation, shaping the African landscape. It benefits other animals and wildlife, and helps to keep a healthy balance. Local people rely on natural resources within their habitat for food and fuel, without them they would suffer too. Not only do the locals rely on their natural resources, Rhinos bring in a large amount of ecotourism. This is vital for the local economy and an important source of income.
With all the benefits of a Rhino population, it’s a wonder humans are doing so much to destroy it. Rhinos have been around for millions of years, a lot longer than us, yet we treat them terribly.
Why do we do things that are so damaging to the other species we share the world with? Expanding our own living environment is inevitable with the ever increasing population, but there are ways and means of doing this without interfering with the other inhabitants of our planet. Surely, we can all live together in harmony?
We’re the most evolved species, some may even say that we’re the most intelligent, surely it’s down to us to ensure a happy medium for every living being. Why are we giving life to ideas that a Rhinos horn will improve your sex life, but ignoring the fact that the ecological benefits of the Rhino will benefit everyone for years to come?
World Rhino Day was first established in 2010 by WWF South Africa. Since then, it’s been a booming success in raising awareness of the plight of Rhinos. It’s grown to be a global phenomenon, uniting NGO’s, Zoos, cause related organisations and concerned individuals from nearly every part of the world.
You can help to spread awareness this World Rhino Day. Anything from a simple tweet using #WorldRhinoDay2018, to volunteering at one of our ethical Rhino programmes.
Our programmes focus on studying and learning about the animal’s behaviour and using that to ensure a sustainable life. You will undertake anti-poaching patrols to ensure their safety and educate the local communities about conservation. You’ll get a behind the scenes look at how education and conservation is making a positive impact on the Rhinos and their lives going forward, and you’ll be a part of it. What better way to improve their lives and futures.
If you would like more in-depth information on how you can help, visit our Rhino page. If you have any questions, get in touch with us and we’ll be more than happy to help!
Don’t forget, head to Twitter and let the world know you want to help by using #WorldRhinoDay2018