World Rhino Day celebrates all five species of rhino: Black, white, greater one-horned, Sumatran and Javan rhinos. World Rhino Day was first announced by WWF-South Africa in 2010. The following year, World Rhino Day grew into an international success, encompassing both African and Asian rhino species, thanks to the efforts of two determined women.
Rhinos were once abundant throughout Africa and Asia with an approximated worldwide population of 500 000 in the early twentieth century. However, despite intensive conservation efforts, poaching of this iconic species is dramatically increasing, pushing the remaining rhinos closer and closer towards extinction. The Western black rhino was declared extinct by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) in 2011, with the primary cause identified as poaching. In fact, all five remaining rhinos species are listed on the IUCN Redlist of threatened species, with three out of five species classified as critically endangered.
South Africa which has by far the largest population of rhinos in the world and is an incredibly important country for rhino conservation. However rhino poaching has reached a crisis point, and if the killing continues at this rate, we could see rhino deaths overtaking births in 2016-2018, meaning rhinos could go extinct in the very near future. Figures compiled by the South African Department of Environmental affairs show the dramatic escalation in poaching over recent years
In mid-2011, Lisa Jane of Chishakwe Ranch in Zimbabwe was planning ahead for World Rhino Day. She searched online for ideas and potential collaborators, and found Rhishja’s blog. Lisa Jane sent Rhishja an email, and the two found they shared a common goal of making World Rhino Day a day of celebration for all five rhino species. Meanwhile, the team at Rhino Africa prepared for their second World Rhino Day event in Cape Town, building on the success of South Africa’s popular 2010 campaign.
In the months that followed, the teams worked together to make World Rhino Day 2011 an international success, both online and offline. World Rhino Day has since grown into a global phenomenon, uniting NGOs, zoos, cause-related organizations, businesses, and concerned individuals from nearly every corner of the world!
The theme “Five Rhino Species Forever” celebrates both the African and Asian rhino species. In addition, World Rhino Day is an opportunity to highlight efforts to debunk the myths and diminish the demand for rhino horn.
World Rhino Day is a success because it provides the opportunity for cause-related organizations, NGOs, zoos, and members of the public to celebrate World Rhino Day in their own unique ways. These activities varied from one participant to the next. Donors and partners are able to contribute to the organizations and initiatives of their choosing. Peaceful demonstrations, classroom projects, fundraising dinners, auctions and poster displays are just a few examples.
Connect with World Rhino Day at facebook.com/WorldRhinoDay and follow them @RhinoDaySept22.