World Rhino Day was first announced by WWF-South Africa in 2010. In 2011, World Rhino Day grew into an international success, encompassing both African and Asian rhino species and becoming a celebration for all five rhino species – Black, White, Sumatran, Indian and Jarvan. World Rhino Day has since grown to become a global phenomenon, uniting NGOs, zoos, cause-related organizations, businesses, and concerned individuals from nearly every corner of the world!
The Sumatran rhinoceros is also the smallest rhino and the oldest living land mammal on earth. No more than 200 animals survive in small, isolated forest fragments in Indonesia and Malaysia. There are probably less than 50 Javan rhino in the wild. The disappearance of rhino in Asia puts greater pressure on African rhino. Likewise, decrease in African rhino numbers increases the threat to Swazi rhino.
While illegal trade in horn continues to grow, so does the support for live rhino. The world is becoming outraged as this flagship species fast-tracks to extinction – rhino conservation is both a race against time and poses an urgent need to reset our human mindset. The criminal syndicates involved in rhino poaching have been likened to terrorists. Their modus operandi mirrors that of terrorist models, putting law enforcers and innocent citizens at risk. There is no scientifically proven beneficial use of horn, meaning the more than 730 rhino slaughtered this year have died for greed and frivolous status alone.
Many dedicated people and organisations are doing great work to conserve the rhino. However, there are also many who have jumped on the bandwagon. When supporting rhino conservation, research is required to ensure your support makes a real difference on the ground.
Big Game Parks is participating in the first ever World Youth Rhino Summit in KZN this year. 100 young conservation-savvy youth between 15-17 years from 30 countries worldwide will gather in iMfolozi Game Reserve. Together with educators and conservationists, they will address the rhino crisis and possible solutions. Big Game Parks CEO, Ted Reilly and Hlane’s Warden, George Mbatha will attend as a Rhino Elders, accompanied by selected youth from Swazi communities.
Follow Big Game Parks this week on facebook and twitter @biggameparks to find out the latest trends in rhino conservation. Get involved, have your say!