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.
Like 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.
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
·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.
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.
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:
Choose your team and tweet your support using the Twitter hashtag #TeamRhino