It’s World Rhino Day today, and people right across the planet are joining together to celebrate all five species of rhino—Black, white, greater one-horned, Sumatran and Javan—as well as raise awareness about the continued and desperate need to protect these majestic animals.
First announced by WWF-South Africa in 2010, the international day of celebration has since grown to become a global phenomenon uniting NGOs, zoos, cause-related organisations, businesses, and concerned individuals from nearly every corner of the world.
Today’s 5th official instalment of the event—which takes places on September 22 each year—looks set to be one of the biggest so far, currently trending under the hashtag #WorldRhinoDay. The day aims to raise much needed global awareness about the scourge of rhino horn poaching, and the decimation this is causing to wild rhino populations internationally.
To use just one country as an example of the scale of the issue, South Africa is home to over 70 percent of African rhinos, the endangered species whose number dropped sharply to under 20,000 due to rampant poaching.
Poaching has become such a significant threat to the rhinos’ survival that official statistics indicate 1,215 rhinos were killed for their horns in 2014 alone, over 5% of the entire rhino population of South Africa.
There are some stories of hope, but much more needs to be done to raise awareness, increase the funding for global anti-poachings measures, and continue the roll-out of ever more sophisticated technologies to protect these threatened titans of the animal kingdom.
Events are being held all over the world to celebrate the day including in the UK, Canada, the US, Australia and the rest of the world. For information on what you can do to help, please visit savetherhino.org.