World Rhino Day

World Rhino Day is on September 22 and celebrates all five species of rhino: Black, white, greater one-horned, Sumatran and Javan rhinos. 

Species of rhino. From the top left clockwise: the Javan rhino, the Sumatran rhino,  the greater one horned rhino, the southern white rhino and the black rhino.

Species of rhino. From the top left clockwise: the Javan rhino, the Sumatran rhino, the greater one horned rhino, the southern white rhino and the black rhino.

Today, conservationists and animal lovers come together to celebrate World Rhino Day. However, the day is marked with bleak poaching statistics. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Earth’s last remaining Sumatran rhinos are edging perilously close to extinction. There are believed to be fewer than 100 individuals left in the rainforests of the Indonesian island of Sumatra and the Kalimantan province of Borneo.

Simon Stuart, chair of the IUCN’s species survival commission said, “with the ongoing poaching crisis, escalating population decline and destruction of suitable habitat, extinction of the Sumatran rhino in the near future is becoming increasingly likely.”

“For hundreds of years, we’ve been unable to stem the decline of this species. That’s due to poaching. It’s due to the fact they get to such a low density the animals don’t find each other and they don’t breed. It’s due to the fact that if the females don’t breed regularly, they develop these tumours in their reproductive tract that render them infertile,” he said.

The Duke of Cambridge echoed these sentiments for all species of rhino. He warned that, without action, we are signing the death warrants of iconic species such as elephant and rhino.

“You’d have thought we learnt the lessons years ago in the great campaigns to ‘Save the Whale’ or ‘Save the Polar Bear’,” Prince William said at a fundraising ball to mark the 25th anniversary of the Tusk Trust, a conservation group.

“But we haven’t. The elephant and rhino, among others, are going the same way and, unbelievably, will be extinct in the wild within a few decades, or less.”

On average, three rhinos a day are being poached for their horns, Charlie Mayhew, CEO and co-founder of Tusk said.

South Africa, which houses the core global populations of white and black rhinoceros, has already lost 749 rhinos to poaching this year, on course to match last year’s record 1,215 (itself a 9,000-fold increase from 2007).

Rhinos are one the world’s most iconic species. We must do everything we can to prevent them from becoming extinct. However, if we are unable to save the iconic rhino, it does not bode well for less celebrated species in the world.

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