Today there are so many “official days” that it is often difficult to keep track and in the age of such international channels such as Twitter and Facebook its easy to get confused between country specific and worldwide appreciation days when a hashtag begins to trend.
Today, 22nd of September, is World Rhino Day; an international celebration of the five remaining species of Rhinoceros. The event was first conceived in by the South African division of the World Wildlife Fund but quickly gained international recognition from its 2010 beginnings. This year people worldwide will be showing their support for rhino conservation programmes and helping to raise awareness of the threat to these species including what many have described as a new poaching crisis in Africa.
Rhino horn plays a strong role in Traditional Chinese Medicine but is often also a status symbol to decorate a home. This has lead to an increase in rhino poaching for horns and within South Africa 1,215 were poached last year, a number that equates to a death every eight hours. As with so many threatened species habitat loss also plays a big part in rhino numbers particularly for Sumatran Rhinos who are losing out to human settlement, agricultural production and logging leaving only fragmented pockets of habitat.
From 500,000 rhinos across Africa and Asia in the 1900s there are now only around 29,000 today with some species already de facto extinct such as the Northern White Rhino species which has only 4 individuals left. However, the rhinos also have their success stories with the Southern White Rhino, whose numbers where a mere 50 at the start of the twentieth century now over 20,000 and the world largest population of rhino. There has also been hope for the Javan Rhino. Though numbers currently stand at only 60, footage of three new calves has emerged. With so few individuals these new arrivals are a much needed boost to the critically endangered population.
World Rhino Day aims to give voice to these threatened creatures and not only highlight declining numbers but also to celebrate and praise the conservation efforts of organisations worldwide who do help protect the five species of rhino.
Alternatively follow the hashtag #WorldRhinoDay to learn more about the species, the threats they face and how you can help support conservation efforts.
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