On March 19 2018 whilst Sudan, the last Northern White Rhino in the world, closed his eyes for the last time, leaving behind only two critically endangered females, his daughter and granddaughter, we woke up to the reality of how close the extinction of rhinos really is.
“Sudan is an extreme symbol of human disregard for nature,” said Jan Stejskal, director of international projects at the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic, where Sudan spent most of his life. “He survived extinction of his kind in the wild only thanks to living in a zoo.”
A truly shocking fact is that in 1960, there were approximately 2000 Northern White Rhinos roaming the grasslands of East and Central Africa. How did we get to this point where there are only TWO left?
However it is not just the Northern White Rhinos that are impacted, although they are the most critically impacted. There are five species of rhino that survive today – Black, White, Greater One-Horned, Javan and Sumatran as well as sub-species within these groups.
The Asian rhinos, Javan and Sumatran rhino, are considered to be critically endangered. The Greater One-Horned rhino, found in India, has increased in numbers up to 3,550 from only 200 in 1900. The third Asian species is listed as ‘vulnerable’.
The remaining two species are found in Africa and are the Black rhino, which is ‘critically endangered’ with only around 5,000 remaining, and the White rhinos, which are classified as ‘near threatened’.
The subspecies, which are the Western Black rhino and Northern White rhinos, are now officially extinct in the wild. The only two remaining Northern White rhinos live at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.
The two main contributing factors to this major decline in rhinos have been a major poaching crisis as well as habitat loss. The Rhino horn is in high demand and one of its uses is in traditional Asian medicine and folk remedies, where it is usually ground up and used for a range of ailments.
Trophy hunting is another factor which has been hugely contributing to the decline of this endangered species as it is an animal that is highly desired due to its rarity. It sickens me that people pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to have the right to kill an endangered species like this, limiting the chance of our future generations of seeing these wonderful animals as we are able to today.
“It may be too late for the northern white rhinos, but we still have time to save all the other species,” says Ms. Dean from Save the Rhino International.
So many amazing organisations have been highlighting the extent of the rhino crisis, and last year I loved Tusk’s initiative of the Rhino Trail in London which highlighted the ongoing threat from poaching to the survival of rhinos in Africa through unique works of art that were on display at iconic London sites until World Rhino Day and then auctioned by Christie’s, on 9th October 2018.
Helping Rhinos is another fantastic organisation that has several ways for you to donate or fundraise towards conservation and education initiatives that will ensure the long-term survival of the rhino as well as other endangered wildlife in their natural habitat.
I particularly like their sponsorship opportunities and I have sponsored one of the members of the Black Mambas, which is an all-female anti-poaching ranger team in South Africa. You can become a Helping Rhinos Black Mamba Sponsor from just £5 a month. https://www.helpingrhinos.org/sponsor-a-black-mamba
I hope that more can be done to save these amazing animals so that they remain on our planet for years to come.