Now in its fourth year, World Rhino Day on 22 September 2013 celebrates the five remaining species of rhino; black, white, Sumatran, Javan and greater one-horned.
The dedicated day is aimed at raising awareness of the plight of the rhino and was first held in 2010 led by a campaign from WWF in South Africa. World Rhino Day highlights both the Africa and Asian species of rhino, of which there are only five remaining. Special events are being held to mark the event and full details on what’s on in your area can be found on the official World Rhino Day site.
Rhino used to roam wild across much of Africa and Eurasia but natural disasters, habitat loss and poaching have placed this species under severe threat. In fact the two Asian rhino species, the Javan and Sumatran are critically endangered. Total loss of these creatures in the very near future is a very real, and very scary reality.
The Sumatran rhino lives in the forests of Borneo and Sumatra although it once roamed across much of Asia. The numbers of Sumatran rhino remaining in the world is difficult to estimate. There are thought to be less than 35 Javan rhinos remaining in the wild. And finally the greater one-horned rhino which is the largest land mammal on earth, weighing in at up to 6,000 pounds. This species is at ‘vulnerable’ status and is found within the deserts, forests and grasslands of the Eastern Himalayas (Bhutan and parts of India, Tibet and Myanmar). The illegal wildlife trade in their horns and also genetic loss has driven the Asian rhinos to the brink of extinction.
In Africa the black rhino is critically endangered. Its habitat are the deserts and grasslands of Namibia and the coastal regions of East Africa. The WWF estimates that there are less than 5,000 black rhino in the wild. The white rhino resides in Namibia and east Africa’s grasslands. With an estimated 20,100 white rhino remaining they are at ‘near threatened’ status. You can learn more about the different rhino species on the WWF site.
Actor and wildlife lover Tom Hardy covered the senseless poaching in his recent TV documentary series ‘Poaching Wars’ where he met with conservationists and anti-poaching rangers and learned of their methods to protect both rhinos and elephants from extinction. If you missed the series, both episodes are available to watch on YouTube; Poaching Wars Part 1 and Part 2.