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What is happening to our rhinos?

What is happening to our rhinos?

Very few people know that rhinos the world over are currently suffering from a poaching epidemic. The demand for a rhino's horn is skyrocketing in Asian countries and cultures the world over. Criminal gangs have infiltrated the sale of rhino horns and are often recruiting poor villagers in African communities to kill rhinos and take their horns. The villagers or gang members will sneak into a game reserve, track a rhino in the night hours (rhinos have very poor eyesight), and then dart the rhino to tranquilize it. After the rhino passes out, they hack the horn off the face of the rhino, and take it to sell to their boss. The rhino will then wake up and slowly bleed to death (rhino with their horns taken have even been spotted stumbling blindly around game reserves by tourists). What is a rhino horn made of and why is it desired? A rhino horn is made up of keratin (the same substance that makes up our fingernails). Somehow, the myth has spread that a rhino horn could possibly cure certain diseases, but it has been scientifically proven that a rhinos horn will not heal you anymore than chewing on your own fingernails!
Stop killing

Stop killing

Since the time that the myth about the rhino horn has been circulating, the demand for rhino horn has grown exponentially, and so too have incidents of poached rhinos all over the world, but especially in Africa. Last year, over one thousand rhinos were poached in South Africa alone (that is one twentieth of the rhino population there). In fact, poaching incidents are steadily increasing in South Africa to the point that the number of rhinos killed is almost above the number of rhinos born. The point that deaths outweigh births is called the "tipping point' and is the point at which the population begins to be unable to recover itself successfully. We are nearly at that point now. Experts are warning that if we don't turn the situation around, rhinos will be extinct in the wild within 10 years time.
The White Rhino

The White Rhino

There are two subspecies of white rhino: the southern white rhinoceros and the northern white rhinoceros. The northern white rhino is believed to now be extinct in the wild due to poaching. The southern white rhino, which is found most numerously in South Africa has an approximate population of 16 000. The southern white rhino is currently being heavily poached, and it is feared that it too may become extinct in the wild within 10 years (more on that situation below). Contrary to the name the white rhino is actually not white at all, but rather gray in colour. It is believed that the name "white rhino" came from the Afrikaans word "wyd" referring to its wide mouth. The white rhino has two horns, a small back horn and a large front horn.
The black rhino

The black rhino

There are four subspecies of black rhino; the South Central, the South Western, the East African and the West African (the West African rhino was declared extinct in the wild in November 2011, due to poaching). The black rhino is not black in colour, but is thought to be so named in order to distinguish it from the white rhino. The black rhino has a more narrow, pointed mouth, which it uses to grasp leaves and twigs when eating.
The Indian Rhino

The Indian Rhino

The Indian rhino is a rather unique looking rhino. It is roughly equal in size to the white rhino, however its thick skin forms folds all over its body, and its upper legs and shoulders are covered in bumps. It has also been called the greater one-horned rhinoceros, due to the presence of only one horn. In the wild, the Indian rhino exists only in protected areas of India, Nepal and a few pairs in Pakistan.

The Javan Rhino

Currently the Javan rhino is one of the most endangered large mammals in the world, with wild numbers thought to be approximately 60 in Java (the last Javan rhino in Vietnam was thought to be poached in 2010). Like the Indian rhino, the Javan rhino's skin also has folds giving it the armoured appearance. The Javan rhino is one of the least known rhino species.

The Sumatran Rhino

The Sumatran rhino is the smallest rhino in size and is reddish brown in colour with the most hair out of all the rhino species. Through D.N.A analysis it has been found that the Sumatran rhino is related to the extinct Woolly Rhinoceros. The Sumatran rhino is also severely threatened in the wild, with numbers thought to be approximately 275.

What can we do to help the rhinos?

The situation is dire, but hope is not lost. There was a point in our past that rhinos were nearly hunted to extinction and due to the perseverance of one man - Dr.Ian Player, who single handedly saved the White Rhino, we have rhinos on this earth today. We must learn from our past and take that knowledge to the future so that we can help save our rhinos today.

You don't have to live in Africa to help save rhino. People all over the world can help. Here are some of the ways to make a difference:

  1. Educate yourself, your friends, family and co-workers on the situation facing our rhinos (actually not only our rhinos, but elephants as well!). Through education we learn not to be ignorant. Have a conversation, blog about it, do a speech at school or email people.
  2. Donate to worthy causes and organizations that are helping save the rhinos. Any amount will help! (please do your homework, as some underhanded organizations are taking advantage of caring people at this vulnerable time).
  3. Raise money for rhinos - you could have a yard sale or bake sale. Return empty bottles or do a car wash. Have a golf tournament or a bike marathon. There are countless ways to put in your time to help the rhinos. When you are done donate your money to help save rhinos.
  4. Write to your political representative demanding that they do all they can to stop the merciless trade in rhino horn and ivory. You could also do an online petition to stir up support - make your own at: https://www.change.org/
  5. Visit countries that have rhinos. This lets governments know that animals are worth more to them alive and forces them to put their support into conservation and stopping poaching.

There are many ways that we can help the rhinos. The most important thing you can do is: something. When people say someone should do something about this......let that someone be you!


Our Horn Is NOT Medicine was founded by Lee-Anne Davis on January 12, 2012.


South Africa.
Email: ourhornisnotmedicine@gmail.com