According to the World Wildlife Fund, it is estimated that in the early 20th century 500,000 Rhinos used to live in areas of Africa and Asia. However, Rhinos became a target for poachers who could make money off selling Rhino horns to be used as Ancient medical remedies in parts of Asia. Habitat loss also greatly reduced the Rhino population as land was taken over for agriculture. Therefore as World Rhino Day is celebrated on September 22nd, it seems appropriate to reflect on the Rhinoceros’s current international situation.
Rhinos are usually quite antisocial animals. If they were a human they would be like a grumpy 15 year old teenager sitting on their phone all day. In a Rhino’s case, they can be found cooling off in mud baths on hot days and happily chewing on grasslands or bushes. However, when they do form groups (usually of a mother and her offspring) they are called crashes.
A Rhino’s habitat is shared with many other species, including elephants, buffalo and many other smaller animals. Therefore, their protection ensures the safety of many species within their area. Local communities also gain a lot from their protection as Rhinos are a very popular tourist attraction, therefore providing economic growth and sustainable development, creating job opportunities for locals in the tourism industry.
Greene’s Students from Lisbon and Oxford are beginning a 6 month international campaign to increase awareness and knowledge of the Northern White Rhino. The College in Estoril, Portugal currently sponsors a White Rhino named Edward (after the founder Edward Greene) at Lisbon Zoo. This is a positive way to ensure the protection and care of the rhino, as the population of rhinos is rapidly decreasing. The friendly animals once roamed in Central America, however today only 2 Northern White Rhinos remain, now in the care of the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya. The Greene’s campaign will focus on the conservation of the Northern White Rhino in attempt to spread awareness of poaching and the unfortunate ongoing trade of all Rhino horns.
The World Wildlife Fund is constantly pursuing projects to protect many different Rhinoceros species around the world. Therefore the easiest way for people at home to support the re-growth of the Rhino population is to donate to the WWF to help fund the creation of more protected areas and push governmental policy to create more restrictions on rhino horn trade and poaching.
The best way forward is for governments to invest in sustainable tourism, improving economic growth of countries while reducing dependency on the poaching business. Education of those creating the demand for poaching is also very necessary, to eradicate the unsustainable uses of Rhino horn. In the spirit of World Rhino Day, I encourage you to sponsor a Rhino, spread the word for Rhino protection and why not watch an adorable video of a Rhino playing in the mud.
- Franny, current Sixth Form student at Greene’s in Oxford