Save The Rhinoceros #WorldRhinoDay

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

Rhino_pop_map

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?

Data published by South African Department of Environmental Affairs (2013)

Data published by South African Department of Environmental Affairs (2013)

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.

Further Reading:

How To Get Involved

The Rhino Resource Centre

Save The Rhino

Sign The Petition – to suspend trade in rhino products!

CIMG4897

Two boys who now know a lot more about the threat of species extinction and are interested to help save them

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15 thoughts on “Save The Rhinoceros #WorldRhinoDay

  1. Nice that your son has such interest. Here’s to a wonderful career working with animals.

    So sobering, what we’ve done to this planet and the creatures upon it.

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  2. Nice post, Claire. And a very important one too. I thought only tigers were disappearing. It is sad that rhinos are too. I can’t understand why animals like rhinos and tigers are important for traditional Chinese medicine – what kind of medicinal practice encourages killing wild animals which are endangered? The baby giraffe looks very nice. Your son’s love for wildlife is infectious 🙂

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    • Sadly, I think some of these cultural medical traditions were based on superstition or a kind of placebo effect and at the time they were created, little would have been known about the incredible damage to the natural environment these practices would ultimately have. It won’t last because there are so few left, eventually they will all be held in captivity and the medicinal practice will stop.

      Despite this, I do have a great respect for Traditional Chinese Medicine(TCM), there are many aspects to it which have greatly aided civilisation, things like this tarnish the more valuable contribution it has to make. I have a whole shelf of books about TCM, and I dip in and out of them often. It has a wonderful philosophical and psychological interpretation and is an incredible healing tradition, I am sure the majority who practice it share our horror at the use of rhino horn for any kind of treatment.

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