Posted on 10/28/2015 at 12:00 AM by Blog Author
What’s large, gray, looking powerful with two horns - the front one longer than the other behind it, and walks on four stubby short legs? You probably guessed it! There’s no mistaking it. It’s a rhino.
When thinking of a rhino most people think of the White Rhino with two horns and lips that are rectangular. They are the classic light earl gray, perhaps enhanced with mud to keep their skin moisturized and cool. Or maybe it’s the Black Rhino, like seen at Blank Park Zoo, that comes to mind who also has two horns but is a darker gray, their top lip coming to a point like an additional hand that can search around and help move food into their mouths. But these aren’t the only looks that rhinos have. Some may have one horn or have skin that look like plates of armour, like they are warriors.
As you can guess, there’s more than two species of rhinos, but not as many as people may think. There exists only five rhino species today, and of those, four are closely threatened with extinction due to poachers who kill rhinos for their horns. Particularly in trouble are the populations of the Javan and Sumatran (which the International Rhino Foundation (IRF) believes has less than 100 members each), and the Black Rhino. But just because the White Rhino currently has the greatest number in population, it still isn’t safe and is still threatened.
In South Africa alone, poachers will kill three or more rhinos per day due to the popularity of rhino horn for the black market. So what’s the big deal about the horns? What makes them in demand and worth the risk of poaching - which ultimately leads to almost 800 rhino deaths just this year already?
Rhino horn is made of tightly compressed keratin which is what makes up hair and fingernails. Except instead of being lightweight like what we are used to, it’s heavier, bigger, and denser. Rhino horn is used in China to cure any number of ailments, and in Vietnam it is used as a status symbol as well as to treat ailments despite having NO scientific evidence or proof that it can do any of those things.
Fighting poaching isn’t simple, but IRF has determined 10 ways to try to decrease, and hopefully eventually stop, the poaching.
With limited resources, IRF does what it can for the rhinos, and Blank Park Zoo is proud to contribute financially to the foundation to help them with their resources and make a greater impact to save the rhinos.
Luckily intense anti-poaching efforts have been able to help keep the population of some species from decreasing (though the Javan and White Rhinos are considered potentially stable) and has even allowed some to increase in population - though slowly (which include the Black and Greater One-Horned Rhinos). One country, Nepal, has even been able to say that no poaching occurred in 2013 and 2014 (according to IRF)!
But the efforts don’t stop here. A very real danger still exists for rhinos, but with the help of Blank Park Zoo and you, we can make a real impact.
To learn more go to the International Rhino Foundation website at www.rhinos.org and come visit Blank Park Zoo’s very own sweet Black Rhinos Kiano (male) and Ayana (female)!
And don’t forget that a visit to Blank Park Zoo can help since a portion of every admission goes to save animals in the wild!