With their strong bodies, grey skin, and pointed horns, it’s hard to think of an animal more striking than a rhino. However, we shouldn’t take these stunning creatures’ existence for granted.
Five beautiful types of rhino roam the earth, but unfortunately some are threatened by extinction. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, Black, Javan, and Sumatran rhinos are critically endangered. The situation is particularly dire for black rhinos, whose population has decreased by around 90% in the last three generations, with the number left in existence thought to stand at under 5 000.
The most predominant threats to the rhino population are poaching and habitat loss. Heart-wrenchingly, a high demand for rhino horn in Asia fuels the sickening poaching of rhinos. Their horns are either crushed up to make medicine or used to create high-value items or art. Due to this demand, it is believed that over 1 300 rhinos were killed in Africa in 2015, making it a record-breaking year of poaching.
Deforestation worsens the situation further, driving rhinos out of their specific areas, into areas where the risk of poaching is greater. It is also the main cause of the rhinos’ habitat loss, with trees in rhino-heavy areas cut down to make space for farms and industrial areas.
When you live thousands of miles away from rhino territory, it’s easy to remain unaware of their plight, or feel helpless in their fight for survival. However, World Rhino Day is the perfect opportunity to spare rhinos a thought and take action to help them.
World Rhino Day was first launched by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) South Africa in 2010 and has been celebrated annually ever since. It aims to celebrate the existence of rhinos and raise awareness of the problems they face. It grows each year, with governments, charities, and animal lovers all over the world now celebrating rhinos on 22nd September.
Doing something to help rhinos on World Rhino Day couldn’t be easier. When it comes to saving rhinos, education is imperative, so let your friends and family know that rhinos are endangered and why. You can also donate to charities such as Save the Rhino International which work to protect these beautiful animals. Rhinos may be big, but we can all help them survive if we each make a small gesture.