Today is World Rhino Day and to both learn more about the problem and to support the cause, we went to visit Wanza, Bela and Rimbo at Zoo Le Barben, our local zoo.
Wanza and Bela are the two females and Rimbo is the male and as well as visiting all the other animals in the zoo, we got to listen to the park biologist specialising in animal behaviour and learned about all the peculiarities of our local rhino friends. And my son asked what age he needed to be to get a job there. Only eight years to go! I am absolutely certain he will work with wildlife, he has been obsessed with animals since a very young age.
Population in Decline
The rhinoceros is said to have been around for 50 million years. Between the 19th and 20th centuries the population halved from a million to 500,000. Today there are only 29,000 left in the wild and a report on the news today mentions that 637 have already been killed for poaching purposes this year (compared to 668 for the whole of 2012).
What Are The Threats to the Rhino?
Poaching for Traditional Chinese Medicine – it is said to be an antidote for poison, to cure devil possession and keep away all evil spirits, sadly increasingly popular in Asia.
Habitat Loss – The clearance of land for human settlement and agricultural production has contributed to the loss of habitat as has deforestation. These countries have lost their rhino populations altogether: Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Chad, Central African Republic, Sudan in Africa; and Pakistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Sarawak in Asia.
Political Conflict – in war zones or where there is political instability, it has become easier for the poachers to kill rhinos and other endangered species e.g. Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe and Nepal.
Meet Wanza, Bela and Rimbo
Here are our local rhinos at Zoo Le Barben, near Solon de Provence. Wanza and Bela are the two females who always stay in close proximity to each other and ape each others movements, while Rimbo stays a metre or two away and when the girls move, he walks around the perimeter marking his territory and checking that everything is as it should be, by sniffing and close inspection, as they can’t see very far.
We were fortunate to spend an hour listening to one of the park biologists, specialising in animal behaviour of large mammals, thanks to her, we now know a lot more about these magnificent creatures.
And Meet the New Baby Giraffe Djao
I couldn’t finish without celebrating the arrival of the new baby giraffe born on June 4th, one of the highlights of our visit, after the rhinos.
To support the rhino population from extinction, go and visit your nearest rhino, sign the petition to tell EU politicians to stop the rhino trade or click on Get Involved to find out how you can help.
Sign The Petition – to suspend trade in rhino products!