I Choose #TeamRhino

Today is World Rhino Day. Rhinos need you on their team. Here’s why:

Each day, an average of three African rhinos are killed for their horns. To date, 18 countries have lost their wild rhino populations: Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Chad, Central African Republic, Sudan in Africa; and Pakistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Sarawak in Asia.

Team Rhino for World Rhino DayLike elephants, rhinos are poached for a body part. Their horns. But, some people may not be aware that rhino horn is not made of ivory.

It’s made of keratin.

Think fingernails.

That’s right. Rhinos are being killed for material that people have on their own bodies.


Rhino horn is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to supposedly cure a variety of ailments from fevers to impotence. However, no remedy involving rhino horn is proven effectual. And, yet, rhinos continue to be sacrificed for our own desires.

To make matters worse for this “Big 5” safari animal, rhinos are losing their habitat to human settlements across Africa, Indonesia, and India.

Rhino Stats (courtesy of IUCN African Rhino Specialist Group, 2013)

·More than 500 rhinos have been poached in South Africa alone, almost halfway to the 1,004 killed in 2013

White rhino and calf
White rhino and calf

·Approximately 5,055 black rhinos are left

·Approximately 3,333 greater one-horned rhinos are left

·Approximately 20,405 white rhinos are left

·35-44 Javan rhinos are surviving in one country: Indonesia. Evidence suggests that they have been extirpated in Vietnam, where the last rhino was poached in May 2010

·Fewer than 100 Sumatran rhinos survive on the island of Sumatra, with fewer than 10 animals remaining in Sabah, Malaysia.

In spite of the slaughter, rhino numbers are stable and even increasing due to the work of conservationist groups such as International Rhino Foundation and the Rhino Foundation of Indonesia.

Rhino protection units

RPUs on a mission to protect rhinos in a national park

These groups educate the public, conduct research, organize fundraisers, and run anti-poaching and protection programs.

One such program involves patrolling key areas in national parks by Rhino Protection Units (RPUs).

RPUs are well-trained, four-person anti-poaching teams. They monitor endangered wildlife, deactivate traps and snares, identify and apprehend illegal intruders and poachers, and investigate crime scenes.

These rangers put their lives on the line every day to help protect the rhinos from going extinct.



Rangers and Rhino dogs protect rhinos

A ranger and his partner, a “rhino dog”, patrolling a hotspot in a national park


The statement, “Nothing I can do” is too often uttered by people who think they don’t have anything vested in the survival of these animals. In fact, as a species with the ability to rationalize, to know the difference between right and wrong, to feel compassion, and to act on the behalf of something unrelated to one’s own personal stakes, humans must do something.

We must end wildlife trafficking.

Here are some ways to offer your help:

World Rhino Day – September 22, 2014

March for Elephants and Rhinos – October 4, 2014

Choose your team and tweet your support using the Twitter hashtag #TeamRhino


Will You Join #TeamRhino?


29 thoughts on “I Choose #TeamRhino

    • I get chills when I read about the things those in the RPUs have to do just to keep rhinos safe. Poachers are generally connected to the mafia, drug cartel, and terrorism. These are high-powered criminals. Stopping them is no small task. Thanks for reading, Carrie.


  1. I echo Carrie’s thoughts; I didn’t know about this! The numbers are terrible. We just talked about keratin today in my A&P class. It’s fascinating to read blogs and discover passions you know nothing about. Thanks!


    • Hi Amy,

      Wildlife conservation has long been a passion of mine. I haven’t written about these issues on my blog before with the exception of a few posts about the wolf crisis because I don’t want to annoy people. Not everyone feels as strongly as I do. I don’t want to pressure people into following these issues if they aren’t interested. However, I love writing for the animals, so I figure if I can educate even just one person on what’s going on out there, I’m doing a good deed. 🙂


  2. I saw a news item last night and was staggered by the amount of rhinos being killed. It’s absolutely appalling! I’ll donate all my fingernails and toenails to save a rhino xxx

    Go Team Rhino!


  3. China is investing money in Africa, not for environmental purposes but for its natural resources. I fear that conservation is an uphill battle, but we are trying to do our part–although I chew my fingernails to the quick. Hence, I have none to donate. Perhaps $$ instead. 😀 Thanks for raising awareness of this issue, Kate!


    • Hi Jilanne,
      China is a major culprit, as they seem to be in many cases involving endangered animals. They are the largest consumer of ivory, so they are neck-deep in the elephant tragedy. Unfortunately, big guns in the US are involved, too, and we are the second largest consumer of ivory! I don’t know how deeply involved the US is regarding the rhino decimation, but I would assume we have a lot to answer for.

      It is all about money. It is truly sickening.


  4. It’s so sad to think that so many rhinos are killed (three per day, wow). When I was on safari in Kenya, I was lucky enough to see one. She was so majestic. I felt like I was seeing a prehistoric animal in the flesh. It’s so great that you remind us to protect our earth and all its wonderful inhabitants!


    • Rhinos have always been one of my favorite safari animals, because they are unlike any other animal. I was shocked to learn of their decimation, but inspired to know there are lots of people willing to devote their lives to save these animals. We can save them, and education worldwide is the first crucial step.


  5. I am glad that you defined who these poachers are in one of your comments. As you know, I am an avid hunter and the distinction you made is VERY important. We, the legal hunters of the world, believe in the conservation of all animal species. That is why most of us do it, to help manage populations that the natural predators cannot. What has happened to the rhino and elephant populations around the world is horrific to say the least. Thank God there are men and women like the RPU to step in and help stem the tide of greed and stupidity.


    • Point well taken, Dennis. To me, the word “poacher” is not at all akin to “hunter”, but rather, “criminal.” While I may not agree with the views of all legal hunters (I am thinking about the controversy surrounding wolves), I agree that there is a huge difference between a hunter and a poacher. Thank you for bringing that up.

      These criminals who steal into national parks where rhinos (and elephants and other endangered animals) are supposed to be safe, are not acting out of a belief of population management, but to sell animal parts illegally. That is not hunting.

      If my blog wasn’t G-rated, I would be using other words besides ‘criminal’ to describe these horrible people.


  6. This group appeared recently in court… here is a write up from the media….
    Hugo Ras” of one of South Africa’s biggest and most violent rhino poaching syndicates, accused of obtaining 84 rhino horns via illegal means.

    Among the members arrested is a Warrant Officer for the Organised Crime Unit in Pretoria, as well as the alleged kingpin’s wife, attorney, brother, a pilot, and a professional poacher. Also said to have ties with professional trophy hunters.

    The syndicate is believed to be responsible for the brutal slaughter and mutilation of 24 rhino, including a pregnant cow and a small calf, in state and privately owned reserves around the country between June 2008 and June 2012.

    Now how the hell do we win this one when warrant officers, attorneys, pilots and professional hunters are involved… ?? I say re-open some of the past terrorist fighter units and let them loose… no restrictions… let them kill these bast..rs it might just scare off some of the others…
    How do you stop people speeding on the highway? Hang the first offender next to the road… people won’t speed (a little bit of an exaggeration) fine them $10 000 for every 10 km over the limit… that will slow them up… so we have to find a similar thing for the poachers… DEATH by hanging… Sorry but I am a lover of birds and animals, ‘specially those of my country… and I can assure you should I ever encounter a poacher of any animal, I’m not sure how I’m going to react, but I’m not sure it will be very pleasant for the poacher…. to see my countries beautiful birds and animals go to my blog site… I live in a place you call AFRICA I call it HOME!!!


    • Hey Bulldog,

      Thanks for a great comment. I really love your POV on this issue, and I honestly can say I’m with you 100%. Of course, if consumers would stop buying the rhino horn to supposedly cure their various illnesses, then poachers would be left without a business and they’d leave rhinos alone.

      Basically, it comes down to educating the Asian population first and foremost, as they are reportedly the number-one consumer of rhino horn (not to mention ivory). Get them to understand that their demands are pushing rhinos to extinction. And it isn’t just the Asian population, the US is right up there, unfortunately. And I apologize on behalf of all the ignorant, self-obsessed Americans who insist on needing the ivory and rhino horn and tiger hides, etc.

      Thanks for swinging by.


  7. I love this from your response to Amy above:
    “However, I love writing for the animals, so I figure if I can educate even just one person on what’s going on out there, I’m doing a good deed.”
    Any single person can’t – and, honestly, shouldn’t – support every single cause under the sun. They’d never sleep! You’re one of the most selfless activists I know, though, Kate, and it’s powerful to read those numbers. Thanks for sharing them.

    I looked on the #TeamRhino page and couldn’t find my city. 😦 But, my hometown is marching! My girls and I will support their effort.


    • Hi Mayumi,
      It’s so hard to pick and choose among all the wonderful NPOs out there. There are hundreds upon hundreds of species and places that need our help and three times as many organizations working on their behalf. I am drawn more toward speaking out for the species that we humans are purposely hurting, though, the ones we are slaughtering for our own desires. This is when I don’t understand the human race, how there are so many of us who simply don’t give a damn.

      And yet, there are people like you and your daughters, who will march for the rhinos. And that is so wonderful, Mayumi. Thank you.


  8. Kate, I hope you never feel that you are a lone voice IN the wilderness. Why? Because you are a wonderful voice FOR the wilderness. You are reaching people and helping to make a difference in the world. May you never doubt the impact of your passion!


    • I guess this is one of the upsides to social media — the ease with which we can spread the word for issues that aren’t necessarily at the top of the pecking order, but are crucial to the state of our world.

      I appreciate your encouragement, JM, because sometimes I do get nervous that I’m shoving controversial issues into the faces of my followers, most of whom come to visit 4amWriter for posts on the writing process, not wildlife conservation.

      Hopefully, though, the issues I discuss are compelling enough to interest even the deepest cave dwellers! 😉


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