#WorldRhinoDay2015 – Fighting the good fight for the rhino
22 September 2015
World Rhino Day is an opportunity to once again raise awareness about the
scourge of rhino poaching and help the rhino make its final stand.
According to Save The Rhino organisation, 749 cases of rhino poaching have
been recorded in the first eight months of 2015, creeping dangerously close to 1
215 (that’s one every eight hours) poachings of 2014. The numbers have been
steadily climbing since 2007.
While by no means isolated to South
Africa, rhino poaching is surging across
the entire African continent, and has in turn become a constant threat to the smaller
rhino populations in Asia.
World Wildlife Fund South Africa (WWF SA)started World Rhino Day began in
2010 and awareness of the animal endangered status has grown into an
international success, uniting NGOs, zoos, cause-related organisations,
corporations, businesses, celebrities and concerned individuals from around the
globe, all doing their part to save the rhino.
WWF SA has been involved in rhino conservation on the continent since the
1960s and has made critical gains in changing perceptions and raising awareness.
Yet rhinos still continue to be poached at unprecedented rates.
While WWF SA said in a press release that there is no single solution to the
poaching scourge and that it would have to work strategically to combat rhino
poaching and operate on numerous fronts. "A key part of our approach is to work
collaboratively with rural communities living near game reserves and to provide
people in those communities with the skills to manage their natural resources –
including rhinos. In return, they reap the benefits of wildlife tourism while
continuing to be custodians of rhinos for future generations."
Sudan, the world's last white male rhino
This year is a
particularly poignant year for the rhino, as it celebrates, yet at
same time mourns, the last living Northern White male rhino in existence at the Ol
Pejeta reserve in Kenya. Sudan is 42 years old and is under 24-hour ranger guard in
the reserve to protect him from poachers. The last three rhinos in the area had
been poached in the last two years.
SA Youth plead the rhino's case in Vietnam
To celebrate World Rhino Day, the
KwaZulu Natal Project Rhino organisation is
sending five young South Africans to Vietnam in the next month – armed with the
World Youth Wildlife Declaration against rhino poaching – to plead the rhino's case
and change Vietnamese perceptions.
Vietnam, along with China, is regarded as the epicentre of rhino horn trade,
and feeling is that a change of thinking here would have a significant impact on the
trade and use of rhino horn in the region.
On the eve of World Rhino Day, KZN Project Rhino's Sheelagh Antrobus told
Zongile Mthimkhulu of East Coast Radio that the trip is significant for the youth
involved and for rhino conservation. "[These] young South Africans are speaking out
against the decimation of one of our iconic wildlife species… speaking directly to the
consumers [in Vietnam] and to government officials [to] show them that as a South
African youth generation they're not tolerant of this loss of something that they see
very important, as
part of their heritage and their culture."
Jackie Chan, Mark Boucher, Angelina Jolie celebrate
Meanwhile, the good fight continues around the world this World Rhino Day,
with millions taking to social media to spread the word and do their bit for rhino
conservation. The global movement is supported by some of the most popular local
and international celebrities, including former South African cricketer Mark Boucher
and movie stars Jackie Chan and Angelina Jolie, who have joined the world to fight
for the rhino in its last stand against extinction.
For more information on the movement and activities in South Africa
and the rest of the world, follow the hashtag #WorldRhinoDay2015 on Twitter and
WWF has been involved in rhino conservation on the continent since the 1960s, and has made critical gains in changing perceptions and raising awareness, particularly through its World Rhino Day every September. Yet rhinos still continue to be poached at unprecedented rates. (Image: World Rhino Day )