I did find this project fun because I already am a user of tumblr so it was easy to do and it was interesting to just focus on one subject. Although animals is a broad topic, i found a way to narrow it down by posting about my favorite animals. At first I was just blogging posts about all kinds of animals, but then I decided each day I would do a different animal. I did not learn anything new because of this project, but I definitely enjoyed looking at all the neat and creative pictures and posts people have posted.
We are lucky enough to share this planet with 5 species of rhinoceroses. These creatures are practically dinosaurs, megaherbivores whose ancestors have been around since the dawn of mammalia. But each one of these species is struggling to survive, and each one is at great risk of joining another 4 species in extinction.
The white rhino, an African native, consists of two subspecies, the Northern and the Southern. Only 4 Northern white rhinos exist today, and with such a limited gene pool, they’re pretty much already considered extinct. The Southern, on the other hand, is thriving with over 20,000 members.
The other African species is the black rhino which is half the size of the white and twice as aggressive. They currently stand at 4,800 animals. Unfortunately, a subspecies called the West African black rhino was declared extinct in 2001.
The one-horned or Indian rhino lives in South Asia, and approximately 2,800 are left.
The Sumatran rhino found in Southeast Asia remains with 300 members.
And the Javan rhino which resides in only two reserves in Southeast Asia has but 70 animals left.
Every single day, one black or white rhino is killed in South Africa alone, but all species are in danger of this fate. Historically, the horns of all rhino species has been used as an aphrodisiac. But in 2008, someone decided that a rhino’s horn could be used to cure cancer, and poaching escalated to record proportions to supply East Asian markets.
The rhino’s horn is nothing more than modified skin, just like the nails on our fingers. It is dead of feeling, save for at the base where it attaches to the skull below, so anyone who was educated would know that skin is not going to be a cure for anything.
Yet the war wages on, despite conservation efforts, and people find a way to get to the rhinos to take their horns. The worst part is how it’s done. Rather than kill the animal and take the horn, the animal is darted with a sedative to immobilize them and then the horn is literally hacked off of their faces. When and if they wake up, they’re left with a bloody, gaping hole with essentially zero chance of survival without human and veterinary intervention.
But the reason I put this out there is not to sadden everyone - it’s to let everyone know there’s hope so long as we do something about it. Through conservation efforts, we’ve been able to bring these numbers up.
- In 1950, there were 100,000 black rhino in Africa. By 1993 only 2,300 remained. But after people realized what was happening, the numbers rose to the 4,300 it is today.
- In 1895, there were only 100 white rhino left, yet now we have 20,000 in the world.
The numbers for the white rhino alone should be proof that we can make a difference. We can save every one of these species if we give them a chance. And it is largely believed that, if we can save these animals, we can save any other species threatened on the planet.
Not everyone can give money, but every single person can raise awareness, so I urge you to do that. It’s easy to sit back and think about how sad it is. But it’s just as easy to tell your friends. They’ll tell their friends and so on.
This planet is beautiful, as messed up as it can be, but we need to keep it that way.
If you would like to learn more or possibly donate to the cause, please check out the following resources:
At the very least, get the word out. I’ve had the privilege to work up close and personal with 8 of these creatures, and, quite frankly, I don’t want to live in a world without them.
Finally, for those of you who can stomach it, I’ve placed pictures of the devastating effects of poaching at these links. It’s hard to see, but it may get the message across better than any of my words could.